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An intermediate-depth (1751 m) ice core was drilled at the South Pole between 2014 and 2016 using the newly designed US Intermediate Depth Drill. The South Pole ice core is the highest-resolution interior East Antarctic ice core record that extends into the glacial period. The methods used at the South Pole to handle and log the drilled ice, the procedures used to safely retrograde the ice back to the National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility (NSF-ICF), and the methods used to process and sample the ice at the NSF-ICF are described. The South Pole ice core exhibited minimal brittle ice, which was likely due to site characteristics and, to a lesser extent, to drill technology and core handling procedures.
The Winkie Drill is an agile, commercially available rock coring system. The U.S. Ice Drilling Program has modified a Winkie Drill for subglacial rock and ice/rock interface coring, as well as drilling and coring access holes through ice. The original gasoline engine was replaced with an electric motor though the two-speed gear reducer and Unipress hand feed system were maintained. Using standard aluminum AW34 drill rod (for 33.5 mm diameter core), the system has a depth capability of 120 m. The drill uses forward fluid circulation in a closed loop system. The drilling fluid is Isopar K, selected for favorable properties in polar environment. When firn or snow is present at the drill site, casing with an inflatable packer can be deployed to contain the drill fluid. The Winkie Drill will operate from sea level to high altitudes and operation results in minimal environmental impact. The drill can be easily and quickly assembled and disassembled in the field by two people. All components can be transported by Twin Otter or helicopter to the field site.
Significant upgrades to the Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill were developed and tested by the US Ice Drilling Program in 2016 through 2020 for the U.S. National Science Foundation. The design of the system leverages the existing infrastructure of the RAM Drill with the goal of greatly reducing the logistical burden of deploying the drill while maintaining the ability to drill an access hole in firn and ice to 100 m in 40 min or less. In this paper, characteristics of the drill are described, along with a description of the drill performance during the testing at Raven Camp in Greenland and at WAIS Divide Camp in Antarctica.
A new drilling system was developed by the US Ice Drilling Program (IDP) to rapidly drill through overlying ice to collect subglacial rock cores. The Agile Sub-Ice Geological (ASIG) Drill system is capable of drilling up to 700 m of ice in a continuous manner. Intermittent ice core samples can be taken as needed. Ten-plus meters of subglacial bedrock and unconsolidated, frozen sediment cores can be drilled with wireline core retrieval. The functionality of the drill system was demonstrated in 2016–17 at the Pirrit Hills, Antarctica where 8 m of high-quality, continuous granite core was retrieved beneath 150 m of ice. The particulars of the drill system development, features and performance are discussed.
Over the course of the 2014/15 and 2015/16 austral summer seasons, the South Pole Ice Core project recovered a 1751 m deep ice core at the South Pole. This core provided a high-resolution record of paleoclimate conditions in East Antarctica during the Holocene and late Pleistocene. The drilling and core processing were completed using the new US Intermediate Depth Drill system, which was designed and built by the US Ice Drilling Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In this paper, we present and discuss the setup, operation, and performance of the drill system.
The Blue Ice Drill (BID) is a large-diameter agile drill system designed by the Ice Drilling Design and Operations group of the University of Wisconsin–Madison to quickly core-clean 241 mm diameter ice samples from near-surface sites. It consists of a down-hole motor/gear reducer rotating a coring cutter and core barrel inside an outer barrel for efficient cuttings transport in solid ice. A variable-frequency drive and custom control box regulates electrical power to the drill. Torque reaction is accomplished on the surface via handles attached to a torsion stem. Core recovery is achieved with either core dogs in the sonde or with a separate core recovery tool. All down-hole tools are suspended on a collapsible tripod via ropes running on a capstan winch. The BID is operated by a minimum of two people and has been used successfully during two seasons of coring on a blue ice area of Taylor Glacier, Antarctica. An updated version of the drill system, BID-Deep, has been designed to recover cores to depths up to 200 m.
Many of the ice-coring objectives in the Ice Drilling Program Office (IDPO) Long Range Science Plan, such as those in the International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS) 2k array and 40k network, are attainable in many locations with an intermediate depth drill (IDD) that can collect core from a fluid-filled hole down to 1500 m depth. The Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) group has designed and is in the process of building an agile IDD to meet this objective. The drill tent, power distribution and core-processing systems are an integral part of the IDD, which can be deployed by small aircraft and assembled by hand to minimize logistic requirements. The new drill system will be ready for testing in Greenland beginning in late spring 2014. The first production drilling is scheduled for the 2014/15 field season at the South Pole.
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