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This article presents the main aspects of the design solutions (based on the application of sensors MEMS and cantilevers), testing and applying of the multi-functional borehole logger ANTTIC (Antarctic Thermo-barometer, Inclinometer, Caliper) for geophysical high-precision monitoring (when simultaneous registering of temperature, pressure, axis inclination angle and radii of borehole cross-sections at 12 points), which is designed specifically for ultra-low temperatures and ultra-high pressures, and to determine an elliptical borehole shape and registration anisotropy factor in deep ice boreholes in the central region of Eastern Antarctica, in the areas of dome A at the Kunlun station (China) and/or of lake Vostok at the Vostok station (Russia).
The Antarctic subglacial drilling rig (ASDR) is designed to recover 105 mm-diameter ice cores up to 1400 m depth and 41.5 mm-diameter bedrock cores up to 2 m in length. In order to ensure safe and convenient drilling, drilling auxiliaries are designed to support fieldwork and servicing. These auxiliaries are subdivided into several systems for power supply, drill tripping in the borehole, ice core and chip processing, and drill servicing and maintenance. The required equipment also includes two generators, a drilling winch with a cable, logging winch with a cable, control desk, pipe handler with a fixed clamp, chip chamber vibrator, centrifuge, emergency devices and fitting and electrical tools. Additionally, several environmental protective measures such as a new liquid-tight casing with a thermal casing shoe and a bailing device for recovering drilling fluid from the borehole were designed. Most of the auxiliaries were tested during the summer of 2018–2019 near Zhongshan Station, East Antarctica while drilling to the bedrock to a depth of 198 m.
Drilling to the bedrock of ice sheets and glaciers offers unique opportunities for examining the processes occurring in the bed. Basal and subglacial materials contain important paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental records and provide a unique habitat for life; they offer significant information regarding the sediment deformation beneath glaciers and its effects on the subglacial hydraulic system and geology. The newly developed and tested Antarctic subglacial drilling rig (ASDR) is designed to recover ice and bedrock core samples from depths of up to 1400 m. All of the drilling equipment is installed inside a movable, sledge-mounted, temperature-controlled and wind-protected drilling shelter and workshop. To facilitate helicopter unloading of the research vessel, the shelter and workshop can be disassembled, with individual parts weighing <2–3 tons. The entire ASDR system weighs ~55 tons, including transport packaging. The ASDR is designed to be transported to the chosen site via snow vehicles and would be ready for drilling operations within 2–3 d after arrival. The ASDR was tested during the 2018–2019 summer season near Zhongshan Station, East Antarctica. At the test site, 2-week drilling operations resulted in a borehole that reached bedrock at a depth of 198 m.
In many cases, the efficiency and safety of a drilling project depend on the reliability of the electrical and electronic control system, as the process progresses without visual access of the operator. The electrical and electronic system provides and regulates the power supply for the drill, collects and monitors the drill data during the whole operating process, and sends and receives the control instructions and feedback signals. The entire system is composed of the surface, borehole and software subsystems. The surface subsystem serves for operating the drilling process, transmitting the drilling and environmental data, and supplying power for the drill motor and downhole control system. The borehole subsystem is generally intended for borehole data acquisition, drill motor control, power regulation and communication. The software subsystem is designed for human–computer interaction, data processing and storage, and programming of signal acquisition and transmission of data. The control system of Antarctic subglacial drilling rig was tested during the 2018–2019 summer season near Zhongshan Station, East Antarctica, in the course of drilling to the bedrock at a depth of 198 m. It exhibited a steady and efficient performance without significant system failures.
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