IDP maintains and operates existing drills and borehole logging winches, and develops new systems with two principal foci:

  1. to provide high quality ice cores, and
  2. to produce boreholes that provide access to the interior and beds of ice sheets and glaciers for such purposes as embedding instruments, collecting gas samples, setting seismic charges, studying subglacial processes, studying subglacial geology, collecting subglacial bedrock core, and borehole logging.

Intermediate Depth Drill

The U.S. Intermediate Depth Drill (IDD) is the next generation of the Danish Hans-Tausen Drill and Danish Deep Drill, with the capability of producing 2-meter long cores. The IDD is sufficiently portable for coring at a wide variety of sites, and capable of retrieving 98 mm diameter core from the surface down to 1500 meters depth in two field seasons.

In addition to the drill itself, the IDD system includes the following ancillary items:

  • Core Processing System: core barrel puller, trays, vacuum, saw, and tables
  • Centrifuge to recover the drill fluid from the chips created by drilling the core
  • Drill fluid handling system
  • Vacuums to clean the drill cable and the core
  • Pilot hole system
  • A 4.9 m (16 ft) x 19.5 m (64 ft) x 2.8 m (9 ft) un-insulated Weatherport for housing the drilling and core processing operations

The IDD is designed and constructed to be transportable by Twin Otter or Bell 212 (or similar) helicopter. For field projects lasting more than one season, most equipment is left onsite to "winter-over". To drill to 1500 meters depth in two field seasons, a 10 person field-team for 24-hour per day drilling and core handling operations is required.

The drill head of the Intermediate Depth Drill with a core inside the drill barrel. The rotating drill head contains three razor sharp cutters that shave out an annulus of ice, which the drill then slides down into. As the drill slides down into the annulus it slides over the core, which is 98 mm (3.86 inches) in diameter. When a cable pulls up the drill, three cams grab the core and break it free. After the drill is pulled back to the surface it is lowered from a vertical to horizontal orientation so that the ice core can be removed from the drill barrel. Credit: Peter Rejcek

Mindy Nicewonger at the core processing station inside the drill tent for the South Pole Ice Core project. The IDD recovers ice cores approximately 2-meters in length. The 2-meter long sections of core are then cut into 1-meter long sections so that they fit into the standard-sized insulated shipping container (ISC) boxes used by the US ice-coring community to transport ice cores. A dry-cut circular saw is used to make the cuts. Credit: Murat Aydin

Inside the drilling tent of the South Pole Ice Core project during the 2014-2015 summer field season. The Intermediate Depth Drill was purpose-built for coring 1,500 meters of ice. Credit: Peter Rejcek

View of the South Pole Ice Core field camp, located a few kilometers from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The IDD was housed within the long red and white arched tent. Credit: Peter Rejcek

Equipment Details

Name Intermediate Depth Drill
Type Ice coring
Number in Inventory 1
Max. Practical Depth 1650 m
Hole Diameter 129.6 mm (wet hole); 126 mm (dry hole)
Core Diameter 98 mm (3.85 inches)
Core Length 2.0 m
IDP Driller Required? Yes, 3+ (number of drillers required depends on desired drilling depth and drilling schedule)
Drill Fluid Required? Yes
Power requirements/source 35 kW 460v 3ph Generator
Estimated Drilling Time 1,500 m - 85 days (assumes 24 hour operations)
Helicopter Transportable? Yes (see system weight/cube below)
Light Aircraft Transportable? Yes (see system weight/cube below)
Trench Required? Yes (3 m x 0.9 m x 3.5 m)
Shipping Weight 27,000 lbs (does not include drilling fluid, generator, generator fuel, or personnel)
Shipping Cube 1,875

Associated Documents