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A new thermal drilling system for high-altitude or temperate glaciers
Authors: Schwikowski M, Jenk TM, Stampfli D, Stampfli F
Year: 2014
Keywords: ice coring
Periodical/Journal: Annals of Glaciology
Volume: 55
Number: 68
Page Range: 131-136

For ice-core drilling on high-elevation glaciers, lightweight and modular electromechanical (EM) drills are used to allow for transportation by porters or pack animals. However, application of EM drills is constrained to glaciers with temperatures well below the ice melting point. When drilling into temperate ice, liquid water accumulates in the borehole, hindering chip transport, filling the chip barrel and finally blocking the drill. Drilling into near-temperate ice is also problematic as pressure-induced melting can cause refreezing of meltwater on the drill which then easily gets stuck in the borehole. We developed a thermal drill compatible with the Fast Electromechanical Lightweight Ice Coring System (FELICS). The melting element consists of a coil heater, molded in an aluminum crown. Using the combined mechanical and thermal drill we obtained a 101 m surface-to-bedrock ice core from temperate Silvrettagletscher, Swiss Alps. The borehole with temperatures around 0°C was filled with meltwater. Power was supplied by two 2kW gasoline generators consuming a total of 70L of alkylate fuel. Ice-core production rate was 1.8mh-1. The drill produced non-fractured ice cores of excellent quality with a length of 70 cm and a diameter of 75-80 mm.

DOI: 10.3189/2014AoG68A024
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