Sun halo with drill.
Ben, all smiles with ice core from a Sidewinder electric drill used at WAIS camp. (Nice beardcicles!)
This blog is dedicated to the process of drilling boreholes. Ben and I drilled over a dozen 15 meter boreholes to capture the spatial nature of accumulation variation. Any one borehole provides excellent annual accumulation information. By analyzing multiple locations, we gain insight into the variation between sites. We expect to see a prevalent pattern over the divide where camp is located. Imagine snow fall on a mountain. The snow is blown over the windward side of the mountain and deposited on the lee side.
Jess initiating the drilling using a screw driver to torque the core barrel.
The drilling process begins with site selection in an array North of WAIS camp. Ben and I haul the drill gear in a sled via snowmobile and set-up a drilling platform comprised of a wooden platform. We begin drilling by hand, screwing the metal drill head and 2 meter barrel into the soft surface accumulation.
Ben with the drill in the first few meters of snow. A box is necessary to operate the drill in the upper depths.
Jess with electric drill past the initial few meters.
Once we achieve 2 meters depth, we add a 1 meter barrel section and begin using a generator powered electric drill. Drilling occurs 1 meter at a time, that is we collect approximately one meter of core each time we drill down -- plus "chips", the snow that sloughs off the borehole walls as we raise and lower the drill.
To raise the core, we pull off the drill atop muliple meters of core barrel. From here, we attach the drill to a pulley. A cord attaches the pulley to the bottom barrel. With the assistance of the drill, we pull up the bottom barrel and take apart the separate barrel sections as they come out of the borehole. The final 2 meter barrel contains the ice core and chips. These must be coaxed out of the apoxy barrel by tapping on the sides with a hammer and pushing the core out using a long, skinney object (usually a barrel of lesser diameter).
The entire process of drilling a borehole, including set-up, drilling and break-down requires approximately 4 hours.
Ice core battlefield, casualties of drilling.
Ice core drinks: Buzzsaw Charles saws off a piece of ice core to cool the scotch. The reward after a long day of drilling.