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Ice Coring and Drilling Services

-DISC drill progress





Among the many groups under the SSEC umbrella resides Ice Coring and Drilling Services (ICDS). ICDS provides support for the National Science Foundation’s projects in very cold places, both high altitude and polar. This group not only maintains and operates existing equipment, but develops new systems as well.

Ice Coring and Drilling Services (ICDS)

DISC drill
The DISC drill neared completion as 2005 came to a close. The ICDS team plans to take the drill to Greenland for field testing in the summer of 2006.

DISC drill progress—By the end of 2005, ICDS’s big, new Deep Ice Sheet Coring (DISC) drill neared completion from a mechanical standpoint.

There were two opportunities to show the DISC drill to distinguished visitors during the year. In March, the Ice Core Working Group, the NSF-supported oversight committee for U.S. ice-coring activities, held its annual meeting in Madison. The second set of visitors arrived in October, when ICDS convened the annual meeting of its Science Advisory Board.

Greenland—ICDS reported a successful field season in Greenland last summer. Both Eclipse drills, designed to core to depths of a few hundred meters, were tested extensively. The team of drillers (Terri Gacke, Mike Waszkiewicz, Bella Bergeron, and Lou Albershardt) gained valuable experience operating the Eclipse drills. The old standby, the 4-inch drill, was first used by Jay Johnson, aided by the other drillers, to drill the hole into which the casing for next summer’s testing of the DISC drill was set, and then to collect a 100-m core for a glaciologist from the University of Washington.

denise drilling
photo courtesy of B. Bergeron (ICDS)
Driller Denise Braun operates ICDS's 4" drill, which was used to drill holes for the IceCube Project at South Pole.

Antarctic field season—The 2004-05 Antarctic field season saw some highly successful activities. At the South Pole a total of 440 m of core was collected with the 4-inch drill without a hitch by drillers Bella Bergeron and Denise Braun.

Another success was the hot-water drilling of a sloping hole through an ice foot next to the ocean for a conduit that will hold wires from a recording station on shore to some underwater instruments left offshore over the winter. Dennis Duling showed admirable ingenuity while drilling this hole.

Terry Gacke and Mike Waszkiewicz successfully collected two 100-m cores from the glaciers above the McMurdo Dry Valleys, using the newer Eclipse drills. The drill’s poor performance here was a major factor leading to the test season in Greenland.

In yet another spot in the Dry Valleys, Jim Green aided researchers in drilling with several different hand augers in very difficult conditions—ice laden with rock debris. Success was only moderate because of the englacial debris, but substantial technical knowledge was gathered and a newly designed hand auger turned out to be very successful.

ICDS also continued to assist the IceCube Project with the expertise of Bruce Koci and Robin Bolsey. SSEC’s ICDS was instrumental in the success of the first season of construction. ICDS drilled seven “exploratory” holes for IceCube to see if any debris was present at the site that might interfere with holes for the sensor strings. ICDS drillers also drilled the pilot hole for the Rodriguez Well, which will supply water for the IceCube hot water drill, which ICDS designed and helped build.

Visit ICDS online.

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05-01-06 jao