WorldWide Drilling Resource®

U.S. Ice Drilling Program Celebrates Another Successful Season Adapted from Information by the U.S. Ice Drilling Program The U.S. Ice Drilling Program (IDP) was established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to control the planning for ice coring and drilling to learn more about our planet’s past. Deep within glaciers and polar ice sheets, records of past atmospheric composition, climate, and ice thickness provide clues to understanding future climate. Ice cores also contain infor- mation relating to the physics of ice sheets and the processes controlling their stability and response to climate change. The 2019/20 Antarctic field season was a busy time for IDP with the entire engineering staff set up across five different sites. At Thwaites Glacier in the Hudson Mountains, four sub- glacial rock cores were collected. Additional work was completed at Allan Hills using a new Foro 400 drill, which is an electromechanical ice coring drill capable of drilling more than 1300 feet. IDP Wa r ehouse Manage r J im Koehler operated the intermediate depth logging winch (IDLW) at the South Pole station in logging the SPICEcore (South Pole Ice Core) borehole. The IDLW is a Mount Sopris logging hoist which was modified to be used in polar field use. It is capable of logging boreholes around 4900 feet deep and able to operate at temperatures as low as -49ºF (-45ºC). Engineer Chris Gibson tested new RAM 2 Drill components with the origi- nal RAM Drill compressors at the WAIS Divide location. Brief testing was also done on a small hot water drill, which will serve as a backup drill for a future project on Thwaites Glacier in 2020/21. Engineer Jay Johnson went to Minna Bluff with the Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID). This unique drilling system is able to penetrate Antarctic ice sheets and take cores of the deepest ice, sam- ple across the glacial bed, and continue coring into bedrock below. RAID was designed to penetrate nearly 11,000 feet of ice and take sample cores in less than 200 hours. It is unique because it can provide fast borehole access through thick ice; short ice cores at the base of the ice sheet for paleoclimate study; cores of the glacial bed to deter- mine flow conditions; cores of sub- glacial bedrock for age dating and crustal history; and create boreholes which can be used as an observatory in the ice sheets. Together, the rapid drilling capability and mobility of the drilling system, along with ice-penetrat- ing imaging methods, will allow scien- tists to build a 3D picture of the interior Antarctic ice sheets in a way that has never been done before. 34 JULY 2020 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® Drill operator Elizabeth Morton run- ning the new Foro 400 Drill in a tent at Allan Hills. Photo by Tanner Kuhl. ENV