The IDP Small Hot Water Drills (SHWD) use hot water to create shallow holes in the ice. They are non-coring and are typically used to produce holes 100-200 mm in diameter down to a maximum practical depth of 60 meters. Primary use is for shot holes for seismic work, but they have also been used for access holes through a thin ice shelf. These drills are transportable by light aircraft and helicopter.
Between 2014 and 2016, IDP implemented substantial modifications to the drills, with assistance from UW-Madison Physical Sciences Lab (PSL) personnel. IDP refurbished the heaters, evaluated the hose, specified and procured a new nozzle kit, and tested and verified all modifications prior to shipping the system to Antarctica in fall 2015. Additional modifications and upgrades were made to the drills in late PY 2016, and IDP built up a fully-operational second unit. One of the two systems has a 30 m depth capability, and the second system has depth capability to 60 m. All identified maintenance and upgrades were completed in 2016, including implementation of lightweight Siglin sleds and system covers for protection from the elements. Following upgrades to the system and upon review of user feedback, IDP now recommends that a trained IDP operator deploy with each system. The system was most recently tested in West Antarctica by two IDP personnel during the 2022-2023 field season and is currently being operated by an experienced PI in northern Greenland in spring 2023.
|Name||Small Hot Water Drill|
Hot Water Drill
|Number in Inventory||
Number in Inventory
|Max. Practical Depth||
Max. Practical Depth
Reliable and efficient to a depth of 25-30 m
Variable (10 cm nominal)
|IDP Driller Required?||
IDP Driller Required?
Typically at least one IDP driller (total of 2 people required for drill operations)
|Drill Fluid Required?||
Drill Fluid Required?
120 V, 5 kW generator
|Estimated Drilling Time||
Estimated Drilling Time
30 m - 15 minutes
|Time to Move (breakdown and setup)||
Time to Move (breakdown and setup)
|Light Aircraft Transportable?||
Light Aircraft Transportable?
3500 lbs; Assembled for operation w/o fuel: 2200 lbs
|Shipping Volume (Cube)||
|2023 Arctic - GreenDrill Geophysical Site Selection Activities|
|2023-2024 Antarctic - NSF-NERC: Ground Geophysics Survey of Thwaites Glacier|
|2022-2023 Antarctic - NSF-NERC: Ground Geophysics Survey of Thwaites Glacier|
|2015-2016 Antarctic - Crary Ice Rise Grounding Line Dynamics|
|2013-2014 Antarctic - Beardmore Glacier Dynamics|
|2012-2013 Antarctic - Beardmore Glacier Dynamics|
|2011-2012 Antarctic - Geophysical Study of Ice Stream Stick-slip Dynamics|
|2009-2010 Antarctic - Amundsen Basin Seismic Project|
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