Foro 3000 Drill

IDP-WI Equipment Development and Maintenance Update

The third large compressor for IDP’s Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill received new plastic on its skis prior to shipment to Port Hueneme, CA, in mid-November. The compressor will travel on the resupply vessel to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, where it will be stored as a spare for the upcoming GHOST project (PI Anandakrishnan) on Thwaites Glacier.

Over the summer, the UW-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) secured additional space for IDP at the drill maintenance and warehouse facility. IDP’s electronics lab has been relocated to the new space, where the Foro 3000 and Foro 1650 Drill (previously referred to as the Intermediate Depth Drill or IDD) electronics are undergoing testing.

In preparation for the Detailed Design Review of the 700 Drill held on November 18, IDP engineers set up the Foro 400 Drill tent. The team believes a tent of very similar design could be used with the new drill slated to drill to 700 meters if fabrication is approved. A preliminary model of the 700 Drill subsystems can be seen below.

The skis for the RAM Drill’s third compressor.

Ron Koch inside the IDP electronics lab. The electronics lab is now located within the IDP drill maintenance and warehouse facility.

IDP engineers use the Foro 400 Drill tent to determine if proposed 700 Drill operations can utilize a similar tent layout.

A preliminary model showing the potential layout of the 700 Drill and its subsystems.

Science Requirements: Replicate Coring for the Foro 3000 Drill

The Foro 3000 Drill is the deep ice coring drill that will be used for ice coring at Hercules Dome, Antarctica. The IDP Science Advisory Board has identified the development of replicate coring capability for the Foro 3000 drill as a high priority in the IDP Long Range Science Plan 2020-2030; the first step in the process is the establishment of the IDP Science Requirements for Replicate Coring. When the Foro 3000 drill development was under consideration, a comparison of DISC versus Foro 3000 capability and logistics (Johnson and Kippenhan, 2017) indicated that a passive design for replicate coring would be advisable. A preliminary analysis (Zeug, 2017) found that a reliable approach using a whipstock in the parent borehole is feasible for retrieving replicate cores at specified depths from the parent borehole. There may be other approaches as well, but they must also fit within the overall goal of avoiding the electronic and mechanical complexity that would accompany a steerable drilling system, which is a more costly endeavor than is feasible now. From discussions organized by IDP with iterative discussions between representatives of the ice core science and borehole logging science communities and IDP staff, science requirements for Replicate Coring Capability for the Foro 3000 Drill have been established.

DISC Drill - Survey of Community Interest

The U.S. Ice Drilling Program is planning use of its drills for the coming decade. If you intend to submit a proposal to the NSF that would require use of the DISC Drill, please send an email expressing your intent to by October 1.

Deep drilling at Hercules Dome will be conducted using the Foro 3000 Drill. A comparison of Foro 3000 Drill and DISC Drill capabilities and associated logistics requirements is available online and summarized in the table below.

Thank you for contributing to future planning for the U.S. Ice Drilling Program!

Comparison of DISC Drill and Foro 3000 Drill system parameters for a 2,800 meter deep ice coring project. More information comparing the Foro 3000 Drill and DISC Drill capabilities and associated logistics requirements is available online.

IDP-WI Refocuses on Development and Maintenance Work Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 17, 2020, IDP-WI facilities, including campus offices and the off-campus warehouse and drill maintenance facility, were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All staff transitioned to remote teleworking from home. Administrative activities sustained limited initial impact and the engineering team successfully switched gears to focusing on a backlog of necessary paperwork such as CAD drawings, Operations and Maintenance Manuals, and Hazard Analyses. The Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) administrative staff worked with IDP to continue limited purchasing and shipping/receiving tasks, to keep project work on schedule. Limited approval was gained to receive shipments at the warehouse that were returning from Port Hueneme, CA. All IDP-supported 2020 Arctic and 2020-2021 Antarctic fieldwork was subsequently canceled or postponed until 2021. In June, IDP worked with SSEC leadership and the UW Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE) to expand warehouse access while following robust hygiene protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19. In July and early August, four people per day were allowed in the warehouse. This was further expanded to five people in mid-August, bringing warehouse work nearly up to normal capacity. Physical distancing requirements, however, continued to impact the efficiency of certain tasks. IDP is currently focused on the maintenance and upgrade of equipment and expediting the Foro 3000 system’s fabrication to ensure all equipment is ready for issue when fieldwork resumes.

Foro 3000 Fabrication Underway

Following completion of the Foro 3000 detailed design and external reviews held in late PY 2018, IDP-WI initiated procurement and fabrication of components in PY 2019. Several primary pieces of equipment were ordered, received, and inspected, including the winch drums, drill cables, and tower base components. Chip tub and drill slot components were also procured and assembled. Following concerns with the Intermediate Depth Drill electronics, IDP enlisted the services of two part-time Electrical Engineers who have prior experience with IDP. They completed the preliminary design of a new Drill Power Supply circuit board and plan to continue this testing and development work in PY 2020. IDP’s goal is to develop robust, reliable, field-ready equipment, and looks forward to continuing work on the Foro 3000 in anticipation of the next U.S. deep drilling project.

The Foro 3000 concept builds on the Intermediate Depth Drill (IDD) system and will allow for deep coring down to 3000 meters depth with much lower logistical requirements than the existing Deep Ice Sheet Coring (DISC) Drill.

The Foro 3000 winch drums. Credit: Jay Johnson

The Foro 3000 chip melter tank and drill fluid drum pump. Credit: Jay Johnson

Equipment Updates (2018 Summer)

Foro 3000 Drill
IDDO continued initial development tasks for the Foro 3000 Drill system during the third quarter. Detailed design of the winch drum and level wind are in process. Sizing calculations were made and a design initiated for the chip melter system. Sonde assembly drawings were largely completed. Design work is expected to ramp up in the fourth quarter in preparation for a Detailed Design Review in late September.

Foro Drill
Anti-torque section assembly was largely completed and motor section assembly was initiated on the Foro Drill. Cabling was completed for the control box and drill motors were ordered. Shipping cases were received for the sonde, tower, and winch. Cutter head assemblies, spare cable terminations, and anti-torque slip rings were also received. Some assembly and testing have been delayed in light of work on higher priority projects, but procurements are largely complete.

Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill
Continued acceleration of RAM Drill design, procurement, and in-house testing. The system was prepared, packed and shipped to Scotia, NY in late June. In early July, IDDO received an Expedition Permit from the Government of Greenland, and a two-week field test was subsequently completed at Camp Raven in late July.

Intermediate Depth Drill
Models and drawings were completed for the winch cable terminations and spare cable termination kits were received for the Intermediate Depth Drill. System maintenance continues at a slow pace, as does the testing and troubleshooting of the Mage Controls components. The components, returned to Mage Controls at the end of the second quarter, are expected back at IDDO early in the fourth quarter.

Winkie Drill
Borehole casing was specified and purchased in preparation for the Winkie Drill's first use in West Antarctica at a drill site with overlying firn. IDDO sought information from international colleagues regarding methods to seal the bottom of the casing to the ice. Packer components, benchtop testing for compressed air inflation, and detailed models of packer components were also researched.

Blue Ice Drill (BID)
Maintenance and upgrade tasks were largely completed during the quarter for the BID-1. The drill was subsequently cleaned, packed and shipped for the upcoming Law Dome project in Antarctica. IDDO continued communication with BID tent vendor Fabricon. Engineer Tanner Kuhl visited the vendor's location in mid-July to review the design and progress thus far, and the tent was completed in mid-August.

Thermal Drill
The Engineering Requirements document for the Thermal Drill was approved and released. IDDO engineers worked to identify, procure and test some thermal and power limiting materials and components during the quarter. New heat rings were specified, as the old model is now out of production, and a number of new rings were ordered late in the quarter.

Hand Augers
Planned modifications for the cleat and locking break components of the SideWinder units were implemented on all five kits in inventory. Equipment was returned from Svalbard and Greenland and was repaired as needed. Orders were subsequently placed for replacement of a few components that were stuck in the ice during the 2018 Arctic fieldwork.

4-Inch Drills
Maintenance was completed for the 4-Inch Drill system that returned from Antarctica. One core barrel set was modified to match beneficial modifications made to another barrel set in inventory. An improved cable keeper for the crown sheave was designed, fabricated and implemented.

Eclipse Drills
A more robust top cover and new side panels were installed on the Eclipse Drill traversing system. Beneficial updates were made to the Operator's Manual. Small tools such as strap wrenches and sharpening stones were purchased for use in the field.

Equipment Updates (2018 Spring)

Foro 3000 Drill
IDDO continued initial development tasks for the Foro 3000 Drill system during the second quarter. Modifications were made to the Intermediate Depth Drill cutter head design that may make it possible to perform multiple core breaks during one drill run. This will be of value when drilling brittle ice with the Foro 3000 Drill. Detailed design of the winch drum was also initiated during the quarter.

Foro Drill
Fabrication of the Foro Drill core barrels was completed and all parts for the anti-torque and motor sections were ordered except for the actual drill motors for which IDDO expects to pursue quotes in the third quarter. The magnetic slide hammers were assembled, and load testing of the sled and hitch was completed. Shipping cases for the sondes, tower, and winch were also ordered.

Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill
Acceleration of RAM Drill design and procurement tasks continued to accommodate a potential test of the system in Greenland during summer 2018. All major component orders have been placed and electrical testing of the sonde was initiated. Initial testing for air pressure losses was completed.

Thermal Drill
Updated science requirements for IDDO's Thermal Drill were finalized at the end of February. A thermal or power limiting feature is being planned as part of the system upgrades, to help prevent premature heat ring failure. A benchtop testing procedure was initiated during the quarter and a number of thermal/power limiting options are under consideration. A manufacturer of suitable heat ring elements has been identified, and a core removal tool was designed and built making use of magnets to disengage the core dogs.

Intermediate Depth Drill (IDD)
The new 1650-meter long winch cable was spooled on the winch drum and was terminated, and the level wind controls were modified to work with the current emergency-stop system. Acceptance testing and troubleshooting of the Mage control system components continued. At the end of the quarter, the IDD's control system components were shipped back to Mage for further tuning.

Winkie Drill
IDDO is pursuing upgrades to integrate borehole casing with the current Winkie Drill system for a planned Thwaites Glacier project. Technology from the rock drilling industry and international ice drilling community is being researched.

Blue Ice Drill (BID)
Redesigned components for the BID tripod feet were received and installed during the quarter. A custom tent enclosure manufacturer was identified in April, and design of a tent and its integration with the BID tripod system has been initiated.

In summer 2017, IDDO worked to begin fabrication of a second BID-Deep system (for wide-diameter ice coring to 200 meters), based on user demand and per a directive in the IDPO Long Range Science Plan 2016-2026. Fabrication of the second system was initially scheduled for completion in Program Year (PY) 2018. However, there is no longer a funded science project this year that requires a second BID-Deep system, and therefore completion of the second BID-Deep system has been postponed to enable work on higher-priority projects in PY 2018.

Foro 700 Drill
The IDPO Science Advisory Board identified in the IDPO Long Range Science Plan 2015-2025 a priority need to alter the surface equipment for the existing Intermediate Depth Drill to make a drilling operation that is less logistically intensive, to be used for ice coring at sites with limited logistics and with two months or less time on site. From discussions organized by IDPO with iterative discussions between IDPO, scientists, and IDDO staff, the science requirements for a 'Foro 700 Drill' were completed during the second quarter. The next step is to develop the conceptual design for the drill, which could possibly happen in PY 2019 pending availability of funds and project prioritization.

Equipment Updates (2017 Winter)

Foro 3000 Drill
IDDO kicked off development of the Foro 3000 Drill system during the first quarter. The Foro 3000 concept builds on the Intermediate Depth Drill (IDD) system and will allow for deep coring down to 3000 meters depth. A detailed task list was developed and other important documentation such as the Project Management Plan and the Engineering Requirements were completed and formally released. Detailed design work was completed for updates to the IDD's anti-torque components to allow for accommodation of a larger-diameter cable. The IDD sonde design was also modified to allow for recovery of 3-meter long cores per drill run.

Foro Drill
Several Foro Drill components were received that were ordered in late PY 2017, including a spare winch gearbox, winch motor, load pin and tower tubing. Control box functionality testing was initiated. The sonde design is now finalized and fabrication has begun.

Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill
Design and procurement tasks were accelerated to accommodate a potential test of the Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill system in Greenland during summer 2018. Component purchases included a new hose reel and downhole motors and controllers. Initial subsystem testing has begun.

Thermal Drill
IDDO engineers researched potential vendors for new heat rings, as the former model is now out of production. IDDO also worked with IDPO and community scientists (Rick Forster, Lora Koenig, Peter Neff, Eric Steig) to iterate on a Science Requirements document before planned modifications are made to extend the Thermal Drill's depth capability to 300 meters, as is called for in the Long Range Science Plan.

Intermediate Depth Drill
Many Intermediate Depth Drill components ordered in late PY 2017 were received, including a spare winch gearbox, spare levelwind rollers, borehole pressure sensors, load pins with internal amplifiers, and the long-awaited Mage control system components.

IDPO Ice Core Working Group Tackles Science-Technology Tradeoffs

The IDPO Ice Core Working Group (ICWG) meeting was held in Alexandria, VA on January 22, 2018. Scientific findings from recent drilling activities were presented, and future possible investigations in Greenland and Antarctica were identified and discussed. The ICWG reaffirmed Hercules Dome as the priority deep drilling site for the community, due to its key location in archiving evidence of past dramatic changes in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Science-technology tradeoffs were discussed regarding use of the Foro 3000 Drill versus the DISC Drill at Hercules Dome; the DISC Drill delivers a larger volume of ice, however the Foro 3000 Drill has much lower logistical requirements. The ICWG came to agreement that the Foro 3000 Drill will be the drill of choice for this important site.

Equipment Development (2017 Summer)

Winkie Drill
In preparation for the upcoming field season in Antarctica, IDDO outfitted the Winkie Drill with a new electric motor and larger diameter core barrel for collecting 76 mm diameter cores. Testing of the updated drill is ongoing at the IDDO warehouse. The Winkie Drill will be shipped to Antarctica in September where it will be used to collect dirty ice cores in Ong Valley, Antarctica, to depths of up to 20 meters.

IDDO Field Support Manager Anna Claussen and Engineer Grant Boeckmann perform testing of the Winkie Drill upgrades in the IDDO warehouse. Credit: Elliot Moravec.

Stampfli 2-Inch Drill
IDDO shipped the very lightweight, agile Stampfli 2-Inch Drill system to Greenland for field testing in June in conjunction with a funded field project taking place at Summit Station. The small, solar-powered drill operated well during the field test, producing 58 meters of core. Based on the results of the field test, IDDO is working to make minor repairs and modifications to the drill, procure spare parts, and develop a lightweight packing strategy for this system. The system could be ready for deployment and PI operation as early as the 2017-2018 Antarctic field season.

IDDO driller Mike Jayred with the second Stampfli 2-Inch Drill test core drilled during the 2017 Arctic field season. Credit: Elizabeth Morton

IDDO driller Elizabeth Morton field testing the Stampfli 2-Inch Drill. Credit: Michael Jayred

A variety of core samples retrieved with the Stampfli 2-Inch Drill during the 2017 Arctic field test of the drill. Credit: Elizabeth Morton

Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill
A conceptual design for extensive weight reduction based on the revised science requirements was completed in July. The conceptual design was presented to community scientists Sridhar Anandakrishnan and Paul Winberry for input in early August. Following that external review and any necessary modifications to the design, IDDO plans to begin purchasing primary components for the lighter-weight RAM Drill system in September/October.

Sediment Laden Lake Ice Drill
The Sediment Laden Lake Ice Drill is a lightweight, field portable hot water drill for drilling through several meters of sediment-laden lake ice. Following the April external design review and the ordering of components in May, IDDO began assembly of the system in June and plans to complete simple functionality testing at the IDDO warehouse in late summer and early fall. The system could be ready for deployment and PI operation as early as the 2018 Arctic field season.

Foro 3000 Drill
The Design Review of the Foro 3000 Drill was held on June 6. The Design Review was a virtual meeting where IDDO presented the Conceptual Design for the drill, and community scientists Eric Steig, Ed Brook, and T.J. Fudge provided feedback from the scientist/user perspective. The Conceptual Design for the drill is now complete. The Foro 3000 Drill is conceptually the same design as the existing Intermediate Depth Drill, but with a depth range extended to 3000 meters and drill run length extended from 2-meters to 3-meters.

DISC Drill versus Foro 3000 Analysis
Per discussions between IDPO, IDDO and community scientists, the next deep U.S. ice coring project will likely target Hercules Dome, Antarctica. IDDO, with assistance from Antarctic Support Contract and IDPO, is currently working with community representatives on a DISC Drill versus Foro 3000 Drill analysis, to help determine which system should be used for drilling at Hercules Dome. The analysis results will be summarized into a report for use by NSF and the science community.

Winch Simulator
Following discussions with Mary Albert and PI Ryan Bay, and due to decreased interest by the science community in IDDO purchasing an off-the-shelf winch simulator unit or designing a custom unit, IDDO plans to design a simple simulator circuit for each logging winch in inventory. IDDO envisions providing these circuit designs to PIs for building at their own institutions. PIs could then perform limited pre-deployment testing on their logging tools; however, IDDO will still encourage PIs to travel to Madison to test logging tools on the actual winches to be deployed. IDDO plans to complete design of the simulator circuits by the end of October.

Equipment Development (2017 Spring)

Stampfli 2-Inch Drill
Late in PY 2016, and in response to the U.S. Ice Drilling Program Office Long Range Science Plan, IDDO ordered an off-the-shelf 2-Inch Drill system from IDDO received the Stampfli 2-Inch Drill in April 2017 and completed an initial assembly of the equipment. IDDO is planning to send the very lightweight, agile system to Greenland for field testing in June in conjunction with PI Baker's project (see Field Support to 2017 Arctic Projects above).

Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill
The science requirements were finalized for the modification and upgrade to the current Rapid Air Movement (RAM) Drill, which is used to create ~100-meter deep shot holes for seismic exploration. The science requirements target a system capable of drilling as fast as the existing RAM Drill, but at a small fraction of the current system weight. Numerical modeling and testing was initiated during the quarter to identify both the hose and drill head configurations required to achieve the desired results. The science requirements are available on the IDPO-IDDO website at

Sediment Laden Lake Ice Drill
The Sediment Laden Lake Ice Drill is a lightweight, field portable hot water drill for drilling through several meters of sediment-laden lake ice. During the quarter, the detailed Conceptual Design for the drill was completed, and the Design Review was held on 4/5/17. The Design Review was a virtual meeting where IDDO presented the Conceptual Design for the drill, and community scientists Peter Doran and Andrew Thurbur provided feedback from the scientist/user perspective, and Dennis Duling provided feedback and recommendations on the technical aspects. Major drill components were purchased in April with consideration of feedback from the review.

Foro 3000 Drill
IDPO led iterative discussions between community scientists and IDDO engineers on the formation of science requirements for extending the Intermediate Depth Drill (IDD) to a 3,000-meter depth capability. The extended depth IDD is referred to as the 'Foro 3000 Drill'. IDDO will develop a Conceptual Design for the Foro 3000 Drill during the third quarter. The Foro 3000 Drill's science requirements are available on the IDPO-IDDO website at

Requesting Field Support

If you are preparing a NSF proposal that includes any kind of support from IDP, you must include a Letter of Support from IDP in the proposal. Researchers are asked to provide IDP with a detailed support request three weeks prior to the date the Letter of Support is required. Early submissions are strongly encouraged.

Program Information

The U.S. Ice Drilling Program (IDP) is a NSF-funded facility. IDP conducts integrated planning for the ice drilling science and technology communities, and provides drilling technology and operational support that enables the community to advance the frontiers of climate and environmental science.