The Small Hot Water Drill (SHWD) uses hot water to create shallow holes in the ice. It is non-coring and is 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. These systems are typically operated by investigators without assistance from IDP equipment operators, though IDP encourages science teams to visit Madison for drill system training prior to deployment.
IDP has two SHWDs in inventory. Feedback on system performance is continuously collected from users of the system. In recent years, 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 maintains a 30 meter depth capability and the second system has depth capability to 60 meters. All identified maintenance and upgrades were completed in 2016, including implementation of lightweight Siglin sleds and system covers for protection from the elements. The system was most recently used in West Antarctica during the 2015-2016 field season.
|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?
Depends on PI's experience (2 people required for drill operation)
|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)||
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