The Winkie Drill is a commercially-available rock coring system originally purchased by IDP in 2015. IDP has implemented upgrades to add ice augering and ice coring capabilities. The system has a depth capability of 120 meters and creates ice and rock cores 33.4 mm (1.3-inch) in diameter.
The system successfully collected subglacial mixed media and bedrock cores during its first three deployments beginning in the 2016-2017 season. Modifications were subsequently made to accommodate a request for larger core diameter (71.7 mm) as well as replacement of the gas engine with an electric motor, for improved reliability and to allow for operation inside a tent. In 2018, IDP engineers incorporated modifications for use of the drill in areas where surface firn covers the ice and bedrock below. In 2020 and 2021, IDP built a second Winkie Drill, referred to as Winkie 2, to meet funded field project demands. In early 2021, IDP engineers tested a new ice bit outside of Madison, WI. A new fluid chiller was also designed and fabricated to mitigate warm temperatures and drilling challenges witnessed on Thwaites Glacier. A slip-style foot clamp assembly was also implemented in 2021 and 2022 to improve safety when tripping drill rod and casing into and out of the borehole, and an electronic pressure relief valve (PRV) was implemented to reduce the potential for a hydro fracture event while drilling through ice.
Both Winkie Drills are deployed regularly to the Arctic and Antarctic. An Eclipse Drill is sent with each system to drill pilot holes.
The Winkie Drill is one of two rock coring drills in the IDP inventory (see also ASIG Drill).
Rock Coring; Ice Coring/Augering
|Number in Inventory||
Number in Inventory
|Max. Practical Depth||
Max. Practical Depth
120 m using standard AW34 drill rod. Designed as a rock drill so should also be possible with enough time and fluid to drill 120 m of rock core.
50 - 52 mm (augering)
|Ice Core Diameter||
Ice Core Diameter
|Ice Core Length||
Ice Core Length
|Rock Core Diameter||
Rock Core Diameter
|Rock Core Length||
Rock Core Length
|IDP Driller Required?||
IDP Driller Required?
Yes, 1 driller (2 people required for drill operation)
|Drill Fluid Required?||
Drill Fluid Required?
Generator 2.5 kW
|Estimated Drilling Time||
Estimated Drilling Time
Augering Ice: 0.4-0.5 m/min rate of penetration
|Time to Move (breakdown and setup)||
Time to Move (breakdown and setup)
3 hours (set up time)
|Light Aircraft Transportable?||
Light Aircraft Transportable?
6,800 lbs (120 m)
|Shipping Volume (Cube)||
In light of use of a drilling fluid, it is critical to select sites where the ice is frozen to the bedrock and is free of cracks and/or the presence of liquid water. Any voids within the ice or near the bed will result in a pressure drop and loss of fluid flow and would halt drilling. In addition, site selection should favor areas where the bed geometry and ice flow minimize pre-existing stresses present in the ice, reducing the risk of hydro fracture during drilling.
|Grant Boeckmann, Chris J Gibson, Tanner W Kuhl, Elliot Moravec, Jay A Johnson, Zachary Meulemans, Kristina R Slawny (2021) Adaptation of the Winkie Drill for subglacial bedrock sampling. Annals of Glaciology, 62, (84), 109-117. doi: 10.1017/aog.2020.73. https://doi.org/10.1017/aog.2020.73||2021|
|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|
|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) 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|
|Kristin Poinar, Jennifer Lamp, Allie Balter, Perry Spector, Dale Winebrenner, Slawek Tulaczyk (2019) 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) 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) Winkie Drill Operations and Maintenance Manual. 1-36.||2019|
|2023 Arctic - Collaborative Research: GreenDrill: The response of the northern Greenland Ice Sheet to Arctic Warmth - Direct constraints from sub-ice bedrock|
|2022-2023 Antarctic - NSF-NERC: Geological History Constraints on the Magnitude of Grounding Line Retreat in the Thwaites Glacier System|
|2019-2020 Antarctic - Geological History Constraints on the Magnitude of Grounding Line Retreat in the Thwaites Glacier System|
|2017-2018 Antarctic - Buried Glacier Ice Masses, Ong Valley, Transantarctic Mountains|
|2016-2017 Antarctic - Ohio Range Bedrock Samples|
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