The Agile Sub-Ice Geological (ASIG) Drill was the first sub-glacial access rock coring drill in the IDP inventory. The drill system design is based on a commercially-available minerals exploration rig, which IDP has adapted for drilling through ice and for ice coring. The system is designed to drill access holes through ice less than 700 meters thick and subsequently collect bedrock cores from beneath glaciers.
The ASIG Drill system was successfully used in remote west Antarctica near the Pirrit Hills during the 2016-2017 field season, where it drilled through approximately 150 meters of ice and collected 8 meters of 39 mm diameter rock core of excellent quality. Nearly 5 meters of ice core was also collected near the ice-bedrock transition, however, the core quality was poor.
The ASIG Drill is much less logistically intensive than the Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID) deep drilling system developed by the University of Minnesota Duluth.
For information on another sub-glacial rock coring drill in the IDP inventory, see the Winkie Drill.
|Name||Agile Sub-Ice Geological Drill|
Rock coring; ice coring/augering
|Number in Inventory||
Number in Inventory
|Max. Practical Depth||
Max. Practical Depth
700 m (maximum drilling depth through ice)
|Rock Core Diameter||
Rock Core Diameter
|Rock Core Length||
Rock Core Length
|IDP Driller Required?||
IDP Driller Required?
Yes, 2 drillers (4 people required for drill assembly)
|Drill Fluid Required?||
Drill Fluid Required?
120 V, 5 kW generator
|Estimated Drilling Time||
Estimated Drilling Time
|Time to Move (breakdown and setup)||
Time to Move (breakdown and setup)
Yes (see system weight/cube below)
|Light Aircraft Transportable?||
Light Aircraft Transportable?
Yes (see system weight/cube below)
19,000 lbs (200 m);
|Shipping Volume (Cube)||
Current drill capabilities require ice at the drill site to be free of cracks and frozen to the bed.
Intermittent ice coring possible by replacing non-coring bit with core barrel assembly
|Mary R Albert, Kristina R Slawny, Grant Boeckmann, Chris J Gibson, Jay A Johnson, Keith Makinson, Julius Rix (2020) Recent Innovations in Drilling in Ice. Chapter 6 of Advances in Terrestrial Drilling: Ground, Ice and Underwater, Bar-Cohen and Zacny, eds., 157-220. https://www.routledge.com/Advances-in-Terrestrial-Drilling-Ground-Ice-and-Under…||2020|
|Pavel Talalay, Hong J (2020) Perspectives for development of ice drilling technology: continuation of the discussion. Annals of Glaciology, 1-14. doi: 10.1017/aog.2020.81. https://doi.org/10.1017/aog.2020.81||2020|
|Allie Balter, Lucas H Beem, John W Goodge, Sean Gulick, Chloe Gustafson, David Harwood, Jennifer Lamp, Amy Leventer, Amelia Schevenell, Matthew R Siegfried, Perry Spector, John Stone, Slawek Tulaczyk, Sophie Warny, Paul Winberry, Dale Winebrenner, Duncan Young (2019) White Paper: Assessment of East Antarctic Ice Sheet sensitivity to warming and its potential for contributions to sea level rise. Ice Drilling Program Subglacial Access Working Group Science Planning Workshop, March 29-30, 2019, Herndon, Virginia, USA, 1-18.||2019|
|Chris J Gibson (2019) ASIG‐Air Drop Test Report. Document #8323‐0025, 1-9.||2019|
|Kristin Poinar, Jennifer Lamp, Allie Balter, Perry Spector, Dale Winebrenner, Slawek Tulaczyk (2019) White Paper: Subglacial Access Working Group (SAWG): Access Drilling Priorities in Greenland. Ice Drilling Program Subglacial Access Working Group Science Planning Workshop, March 29-30, 2019, Herndon, Virginia, USA, 1-7.||2019|
|Perry Spector, John Stone, Nathaniel Lifton, Robert Ackert, Brent Goehring, Greg Balco, Bill McIntosh, Seth Campbell, Matt Zimmerer, Trista J Vick-Majors, Dale Winebrenner (2019) White Paper: Drilling priorities to determine the past extent of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Ice Drilling Program Subglacial Access Working Group Science Planning Workshop, March 29-30, 2019, Herndon, Virginia, USA, 1-10.||2019|
|U.S. Ice Drilling Program (2019) Agile Sub-Ice Geological Drill Operations and Maintenance Manual. 1-23.||2019|
|IDDO (2015) Agile Sub-Ice Geological Drill System Design Review. 1-72.||2015|
|John Stone, Jaakko Putkonen, Edward Brook, IDPO (2014) Science Requirements: Agile Sub-Ice Geological Drill. 1-2.||2014|
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