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.


The Sidewinder is not a drill, but is a drive/lifting system used in conjunction with hand augers. It is driven by an electric motor (power hand drill) and a winching system to help in both lowering and retrieving the drill string. The power hand drill component can also be used to help spin the hand auger barrel itself during drilling. The Sidewinder extends the maximum practical depth of coring with a hand auger to about 40 meters.

Like the hand augers, the Sidewinders are typically operated by investigators without assistance from IDP drillers.

PI Erich Osterberg drills with the IDP Hand Auger and Sidewinder system in Greenland. Credit: Gabe Lewis

Members of the Lake Vida expedition team – Peter Doran, Chris Fritsen and Jay Kyne – use a Sidewinder with the Praire Dog Drill during the 2010-2011 season to drill an ice core from frozen Lake Vida, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Credit: Ema Kuhn

IDP driller Jay Kane drills with the PICO Hand Auger and Sidewinder system during the 2013 field season in SE Greenland. Credit: Rick Forster

Equipment Details

Name Sidewinder
Type Power unit for hand augers
Number in Inventory 5
Max. Practical Depth 40 meters
Hole Diameter [not applicable]
Core Diameter [not applicable]
Core Length [not applicable]
IDP Driller Required? No (while 1 person can operate the Sidewinder, a 2-person crew helps share the labor and speeds up the cycle time)
Drill Fluid Required? [not applicable]
Power requirements/source 2-kW generator or solar cells
Estimated Drilling Time 5 m - 2 hours
10 m - 3 hours
20 m - 5 hours
30 m - 8 hours
40 m - 12 hours
Time to move (breakdown and setup) <1 hour
Helicopter Transportable? Yes
Light Aircraft Transportable? Yes
Trench Required? No
Shipping Weight 180 lbs
Shipping Cube 6 (does not include generator or hand auger)
Comments Shipping weight includes generator but not hand auger. 130 lb shipping weight w/o generator.

Associated Documents