Intermediate Depth Logging Winch

IDP Supports a Successful 2019/20 Antarctic Field Season

The 2019/20 Antarctic field season was a bustling time for IDP. The entire engineering staff of IDP deployed across five different sites. Using the Winkie Drill and Badger-Eclipse Drill, Engineer Grant Boeckmann and Research Intern Elliot Moravec successfully collected four subglacial rock cores on Thwaites Glacier in the Hudson Mountains for PI Brent Goehring’s project. Engineer Tanner Kuhl and Driller Elizabeth Morton supported PI John Higgins’s work at Allan Hills through operation of the Blue Ice Drill and the new Foro 400 Drill. IDP Warehouse Manager Jim Koehler operated the Intermediate Depth Logging Winch (IDLW) at South Pole Station in support of PI Kael Hanson’s logging of the SPICEcore borehole and then transitioned to WAIS Divide to assist Engineer Chris Gibson with testing of the new RAM 2 Drill components with the original RAM Drill compressors. They were also able to perform brief testing on the Small Hot Water Drill, which will serve as the backup drill for PI Sridhar Anandakrishnan’s GHOST project on Thwaites Glacier in 2020/21. Engineer Jay Johnson deployed to Minna Bluff with the RAID project at the request of PI John Goodge and the NSF. In addition to consulting on operation of the RAID equipment, Johnson also used an IDP 4-Inch Drill and chips bailer to assist in setting the RAID packer. He also re-terminated the IDLW cable following damage at South Pole and was assisted in this effort by Kuhl and Morton. The IDLW was then operated in two RAID boreholes by RAID and IceCube personnel. Despite substantial weather and aircraft delays program-wide, objectives were largely completed for all projects, and feedback received from PIs has been very positive.

IDP Engineer Grant Boeckmann (left) operates the Winkie Drill on Thwaites Glacier in the Hudson Mountains. Also shown is scientist Seth Campbell (center) and IDP Research Intern Elliot Moravec (right). Photo credit: Brent Goehring.

Engineer Tanner Kuhl operates the Blue Ice Drill with a new tower at Allan Hills. Photo credit: Jessica Tinker.

Testing of the new RAM 2 Drill components at WAIS Divide. Photo credit: Chris Gibson.

Driller Elizabeth Morton operates the new Foro 400 Drill and tent at Allan Hills. Photo credit: Tanner Kuhl.

Engineer Jay Johnson operating the 4-Inch Drill with the RAID platform at Minna Bluff. Photo credit: John Goodge.

Field Support to Antarctic 2019-2020 Projects

IDP is providing support to the following projects during the 2019-2020 Antarctic field season:

(1) The Geological History Constraints on the Magnitude of Grounding Line Retreat in the Thwaites Glacier System project (PIs Goehring, Balco, Hall, Campbell; C-443-M; NSF award 1738989) contributes to the joint initiative launched by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to substantially improve decadal and longer-term projections of ice loss and sea-level rise originating from Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. The goal of the project is to obtain geological evidence from the Thwaites-Pine Island Glacier system that will show whether glaciers were less extensive than they are at present, and, if so, when. The project will utilize the Badger-Eclipse Drill and Winkie Drill to obtain subglacial bedrock from sites where ice thickness is dynamically linked to grounding-line position in the Thwaites system (specifically in the Hudson Mountains). Observation of significant cosmogenic-nuclide concentrations in these samples would provide direct, unambiguous evidence for past episodes of thinning linked to grounding-line retreat as well as constraints on their timing and duration.

(2) The Thwaites-Amundsen Regional Survey and Network (TARSAN) integrating atmosphere-ice-ocean processes affecting the sub-ice- shelf environment project (PI Pettit; C-445-M/N; NSF award 1738992) contributes to the joint initiative launched by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.K. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to substantially improve decadal and longer-term projections of ice loss and sea-level rise originating from Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. Thwaites and neighboring glaciers in the Amundsen Sea Embayment are rapidly losing mass in response to recent climate warming and related changes in ocean circulation. The processes driving the loss appear to be warmer ocean circulation and changes in the width and flow speed of the glacier, but a better understanding of these changes is needed to refine predictions of how the glacier will evolve. One highly sensitive process is the transitional flow of glacier ice from land onto the ocean to become a floating ice shelf. This flow of ice from grounded to floating is affected by changes in air temperature and snowfall at the surface; the speed and thickness of ice feeding it from upstream; and the ocean temperature, salinity, bathymetry, and currents that the ice flows into. The project team will gather new measurements of each of these local environmental conditions so that it can better predict how future changes in air, ocean, or the ice will affect the loss of ice to the ocean in this region. The project will use a 400-meter winch with tower and sheave from the 4-Inch Drill as an instrument installation winch to lower instruments into hot water-drilled boreholes on the Dotson Ice Shelf to measure ocean water properties at locations where warm Circumpolar Deep Water reaches the Thwaites grounding line.

(3) The Collaborative Research: Snapshots of Early and mid-Pleistocene Climate and Atmospheric Composition from the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area project (PIs Higgins, Brook, Severinghaus, Mayewski; I-165-M; NSF award 1744993, 1745006, 1744832 and 1745007) will collect new ice cores from the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area. Bubbles of ancient air trapped in ice cores have been used to directly reconstruct atmospheric composition, and its links to Antarctic and global climate, over the last 800,000 years. Previous field expeditions to the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area, Antarctica, have recovered ice cores that extend as far back as 2.7 million years. These ice cores extend direct observations of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane concentrations and indirect records of Antarctic climate into a period of Earth’s climate history that represents a plausible geologic analogue to future anthropogenic climate change. Through this project, the team will return to the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area to recover additional ice cores that date to 2 million years or older. The new Foro 400 Drill and Blue Ice Drill will be used to recover the ice cores. The climate records developed from these ice cores will provide new insights into the chemical composition of the atmosphere and Antarctic climate during times of comparable or even greater warmth than the present day.

(4) The Phase 2 Development of a Rapid Access Ice Drilling (RAID) Platform for Research in Antarctica project (PI Goodge; D-551-M, D-552-M; NSF award 1419935) will initiate its third Antarctic Field Trial (AFT3) of the RAID drill system  – to collect ice and rock samples from a deep ice sheet near Minna Bluff. The RAID drilling system will be put through a complete set of drilling trials, including augering firn, setting a borehole packer, drilling about 600 meters of grounded ice, and obtain samples of ice and rock cores at depth (by wireline rotary coring). All components of the drilling system will be tested and evaluated. The 4-Inch Drill will be used to make 2-3 meters of smooth-walled borehole just below the firn-ice transition, at a depth of approximately 70 meters, to field test the setting of the borehole packer. The Intermediate Depth Logging Winch will be used to field test a borehole dust logger in selected boreholes produced this season at Minna Bluff.

(5) The Management and Operations of the IceCube Neutrino Observatory 2016-2021 project (PIs Halzen and Hanson; A-333-S; NSF award 1600823) will utilize the Intermediate Depth Logging Winch to lower a series of optical+UV and radio sensor packages into the South Pole Ice Core (SPICEcore) borehole to the full depth of the hole (1751 m). The science goals include measurements of the radio absorption length of the ice from 100-1000MHz, radio birefringence in the ice, and ice index of refraction, all measured as a function of depth and ice temperature. The science team is interested in the optical scattering, absorption lengths, and luminescence as a function of depth and optical wavelength from the visible into the ultraviolet.

Map of Antarctica showing 2019-2020 Antarctic field season locations. The numbers shown on the maps correspond to the project numbers in the text.

The MECC and Other Antarctic Cargo Returns

In early April, IDP-WI coordinated with staff at Port Hueneme to return cargo from Antarctica. Returned equipment included the Hand Augers used during the 2018-2019 season, the Intermediate Deep Logging Winch and the Sediment Laden Lake Ice Drill. In addition, several crates of DISC Drill equipment and the MECC (Mobile Expandable Container Configuration) machine shop returned after over a decade on the ice. The DISC Drill equipment and MECC were slowly removed from WAIS Divide on flights of opportunity.

Unloading the returned Antarctic cargo at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Credit: Kristina Slawny

Unloading the returned Antarctic cargo at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Credit: Anna de Vitry

IDDO Completes Support of 2017-2018 Antarctic Season

IDDO deployed four separate drilling/logging systems for use during the 2017-2018 season, along with three IDDO equipment operators.

IDDO engineer Tanner Kuhl accompanied the 4-Inch Drill and Deep Logging Winch to Minna Bluff for the Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID) second Antarctic field trial (AFT2; PIs Goodge and Severinghaus; D-551-M) project. The 4-Inch Drill was used successfully to drill one hole to 131 meters, with firn air samples collected by the science team (PI Severinghaus; D-551-M) from nine separate depths. The 4-Inch Drill coring activities found the firn-ice transition at Minna Bluff to be at approximately 82 meters depth, providing valuable firn-ice transition data for the nearby RAID AFT2 operations. IDDO's Deep Logging Winch was deployed to allow for logging of the RAID AFT2 boreholes using Ryan Bay's optical logging tool. The Deep Logging Winch was ultimately not used during the RAID AFT2, however, as the RAID system was unable to complete a hole to depth. While development, fabrication and testing of the RAID system is being conducted by DOSECC Exploration Services LLC and is not an IDPO-IDDO activity, Kuhl's deployment to Minna Bluff also gave him the opportunity to drill with the RAID field team, learn about the RAID system operation, and provide trouble-shooting support to the RAID team.

The 4-Inch Drill in use at Minna Bluff, Antarctica, during the 2017-2018 Antarctic field season. Credit: Tanner Kuhl

The Intermediate Depth Logging Winch was sent to the South Pole, where it was used successfully by the Askaryan Radio Array (ARA) field team (PI Karle; A-107-S) to log the existing South Pole Ice Core (SPICEcore) borehole to gather physical properties data as well as radio properties and ARA calibration data. IDDO engineer Chris Gibson joined the ARA field team at the South Pole this season to gain valuable hands-on experience with their hot water drilling operation.

ARA hot water drilling at South Pole. Credit: Chris Gibson

The Winkie Drill successfully completed its second field season, this time in Ong Valley (PIs Putkonen and Morgan; G-192-M). Drill upgrades made in Madison following the previous project in the Ohio Range proved successful, and IDDO engineer Grant Boeckmann was able to collect quality mixed media cores consisting of ice, silt and rock. While the original project goal was to collect three cores from two separate sites (six cores total), the ice encountered contained much more sand, silt and rock than the PIs anticipated. One core was collected at each of the two sites, with one core to 10 meters and one to 12 meters depth. The higher debris content proved very useful for the science goals, reducing the number of holes needed.

The Winkie Drill in Ong Valley, Antarctica. Credit: Grant Boeckmann

A mixed-media core consisting of ice, silt and rock collected with the Winkie Drill in Ong Valley, Antarctica. Credit: Grant Boeckmann

IDDO also supported six hand auger projects during the 2017-2018 field season through the provision of Hand Auger and Sidewinder equipment.

2016-2017 Antarctic Field Season Wraps Up

In addition to the two sub-glacial rock drilling projects described above, IDDO successfully supported three projects at or near the South Pole, and one at WAIS Divide, during the 2016-2017 Antarctic field season. South Pole Ice Core (SPICEcore; PI Murat Aydin; I-164-S) operations were completed in just three years at South Pole, with 1751 meters of ice core drilled, one round of borehole logging (PI Ryan Bay; I-194-S) with the Intermediate Depth Logging Winch completed, and all equipment has now been removed from the site. Engineers Jay Johnson and Josh Goetz completed all remaining activities this season, with help from the science team onsite. Also near South Pole Station, drillers Mike Waszkiewicz and Elizabeth Morton completed a number of holes ranging from 5 to 125 meters depth using the IDDO 4-Inch Drill system (PI Michelle Koutnik; I-193-S). In West Antarctica, despite needing to make a last-minute operator change, borehole logging with the Deep Logging Winch was also successfully completed at WAIS Divide (PI Erin Pettit; I-166-M).

Laser dust logging of the SPICEcore borehole. Credit: Jay Johnson.

The IDDO 4-Inch Drill near South Pole Station. Credit: Mike Waszkiewicz.

Borehole logging at WAIS Divide, Antarctica. Credit: Elizabeth Morton.

Decommissioning of the SPICEcore drill site. Credit: Joe Souney.

Changing Seasons for Field Project Support: Wrapping up a Successful Antarctic Season and Readying for a Bustling Arctic Season

The second quarter (February 1, 2014 - April 30, 2014) saw several Antarctic projects closed out, with final End-of-Season Reports submitted for the Blue Ice Drill's work on Taylor Glacier and for a successful first deployment of IDDO's new Intermediate Depth Logging Winch at Siple Dome. Later in the quarter, IDDO also worked hard to compile and review information for three Support Information Packages for the following 2014-2015 Antarctic field season.

Substantial efforts during the second quarter brought the final setup of IDDO's new Intermediate Depth Drill (IDD) to life. The majority of the equipment was shipped to Scotia, NY by the end of March, with certain critical components shipped shortly after. A team of six drillers completed the PQ process, and all travel arrangements for their deployment were made. The drillers deployed to Scotia on April 21, but were returned home on April 24, due to a mechanical issue with the LC-130 Hercules fleet. IDDO worked with the NSF, CH2M HILL Polar Field Services and the 109th Air National Guard to weigh options for an abbreviated test season and on April 30, the last day of the quarter, IDDO received a call that the northbound Greenland flights were back on. The IDDO crew made it to Summit, Greenland, on May 6 and had the first core drilled at the Isi test site on May 14. The testing of the Intermediate Depth Drill (in Greenland) is now finished. The last core was drilled on Saturday, May 31. The final depth of the test borehole is 285.3 meters. The drillers are now working on packing to prepare the first round of cargo for a flight to Kangerlussuaq on June 4. The remainder of the cargo is scheduled to fly to Kangerlussuaq on the June 10 flight. The drill team was able to complete all desired tests except for the brittle ice drilling test, due to the Hercules issue delaying the start of the field season.

Intermediate Depth Drill cargo in New York, ready for transport to Greenland.

IDDO continued monthly teleconferences with ASC and the SPICEcore PIs in preparation for the IDD's deployment to the South Pole in November 2014. In addition, engineer/ driller Tanner Kuhl attended the 2014 SPICE Core Planning Meeting at the University of California-Irvine.

IDDO worked with NSF, ASC and the dedicated cargo personnel in Scotia, NY to expedite the return of the Blue Ice Drill (BID) system to Madison after vessel-loading issues in McMurdo threatened to delay the return of much of the Antarctic cargo. The BID was needed in Madison in order for IDDO to implement new BID-Deep components and turn the system around for the upcoming Arctic field season. By the end of April, all cargo was packed for PI Vas Petrenko's upcoming project at Isi Camp, and driller Mike Jayred and engineer/driller Josh Goetz were PQed. Jayred and Goetz subsequently deployed on May 11.

Blue Ice Drill - Deep System at IDDO warehouse.

Blue Ice Drill - Deep winch and tripod assembly.

IDDO also prepared for a few upcoming hand auger projects in Greenland. Kits were packed and shipped for PI Sarah Das, who used one of IDDO's new 3-Inch hand auger kits to drill shallow cores at one site on Disko Island and at two sites on the Nussuaq Peninsula in late April. A hand auger and Sidewinder kit were packed and shipped for PI Erich Osterberg, who plans to drill cores up to 40 meters depth outside of Thule airbase in late May. Initial preparations were also made for the packing and shipping of hand auger and Sidewinder equipment for PI David Noone's project at Summit Station. Noone's field work in late June and early July will mark the fourth and final year of his four-year project. One additional hand auger project was completed early in the quarter for PI Mike McKay at Bowling Green State University. McKay utilized a new IDDO hand auger to collect river and lake ice samples in the Midwest US as well as in Canada. His project, funded through the NSF Division of Environmental Biology, is scheduled to continue into 2016.

In addition to field season planning and cargo preparation, IDDO also completed proposal support estimates for thirteen separate science projects for the 2014 NSF Antarctic Proposal solicitation. Letters of Support and Cost Estimates were provided to PIs for inclusion in their proposal submissions.

Successful Project Support Amidst an Uncertain Antarctic Field Season

Despite uncertainties surrounding and delays stemming from the government shutdown in Fall 2013, Antarctic fieldwork was successfully completed for IDDO-supported projects.

Taylor Glacier (PIs Aciego and Petrenko)
On Taylor Glacier in the Dry Valleys Region, IDDO driller Mike Jayred and IDDO engineer Josh Goetz successfully collected over 1300 meters of large-diameter ice cores using the Blue Ice Drill. Despite an intensely windy field season, project objectives were achieved for both PI Vas Petrenko and PI Sarah Aciego.

Driller Mike Jayred operating the Blue Ice Drill on Taylor Glacier.

Siple Dome (PIs Bay and Talghader)
Due to the government shutdown, the U.S. Antarctic Program decided against opening WAIS Divide Camp this season. This has delayed borehole logging operations at WAIS Divide by one field season, but is not expected to negatively impact the disassembly and removal of the DISC Drill from the site, which is now scheduled to occur in 2014-2015. Due to the impact of the shutdown on the logging operations planned for WAIS Divide, PIs Joey Talghader and Ryan Bay altered their project plans to complete less logistically-intense logging projects at Siple Dome this season, both of which were originally planned for the 2014-2015 field season. Assisting in their operations were Josh Goetz and driller Elizabeth Morton. Despite severe flight delays and poor weather at Siple Dome, a very successful maiden voyage of IDDO's new Intermediate Depth Logging Winch helped to complete all project objectives.

The new intermediate logging winch for logging boreholes up to 1500 meters deep.

The intermediate depth logging winch in operation at Siple Dome.

Beardmore Glacier (PIs Conway and Winberry)
PIs Howard Conway and Paul Winberry utilized a Small Hot Water Drill once again to successfully drill over 100, 25-meter deep holes for seismic research on Beardmore Glacier, completing the second season of their two-year project.

Shallow Hand Auger Drilling (various PIs)
A number of shallow drilling projects were completed by PIs through the use of hand auger kits provided by IDDO, including two PICO hand auger kits, three SIPRE hand augers, two Sidewinder power drive kits and five new IDDO hand auger kits. The newly designed IDDO hand auger kit has shown excellent results thus far and IDDO continues to collect user feedback on the kit's performance.

The new IDDO hand auger kits packed and ready for shipment to Antarctica.

IDDO hand auger kit contents.

Intermediate Depth Logging Winch Now Available for Community Use

In collaboration with IDPO and the borehole logging community, IDDO completed the design and specification of an intermediate depth logging winch capable of logging boreholes to a depth of 1500 meters. The winch and associated Teflon-coated logging cable have been delivered to IDDO, and IDDO has finished its modifications readying the system for Polar use. The logging winch can operate at temperatures as low as -45 degrees C, is transportable by a single Twin Otter flight, and is now available for community use!

Intermediate Depth Logging Winch in Fabrication

In collaboration with IDPO and the borehole logging community, IDDO has completed design and specification of an Intermediate Depth Logging Winch and has procured the winch as well as the associated Teflon-coated logging cable. This system is expected to be ready for use by the end of the calendar year 2012.

IDDO Intermediate Depth Logging Winch. Credit: Mount Sopris

Intermediate-Depth Logging Winch

Acquisition of logging winches for the borehole logging community is one of the high-priority items identified in the Long Range Science Plan ( Through many discussions with the borehole logging community, a set of science requirements for an intermediate-depth winch have been developed. The intermediate-depth winch will be capable of logging holes 1200-1500 m deep, operate at temperatures as low as -45 degrees C, transportable by a single Twin Otter flight, and is intended for general community use. IDPO Science Advisory Board member Ryan Bay will serve as the science community user contact for IDDO as they pursue acquisition of the winch. The science requirements can be viewed/downloaded 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.