Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID)

2nd RAID Science Planning Workshop

The U.S. Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID) is ready for Antarctic ice-sheet exploration! RAID completed successful field trials in the 2019-20 austral season. Since then, RAID has completed a series of important tooling upgrades and technical improvements. With new developments in knowledge of subglacial materials and basal ice-sheet environment, new technologies and micro-instrument methodologies, discovery of very old (up to 4 m.y.) ice from blue ice fields, and an engaged new generation of young cryosphere and solid-earth scientists — now is a good time for a 2nd RAID Science Planning Workshop to reunite the community and articulate the future science that the community wants to do with RAID! Expression of interest and application forms are now officially open until July 15, 2024.

Sarah Shackleton (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) 
John Goodge (Planetary Science Institute) 
Allie Balter-Kennedy (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) 
Shuai Yan (University of Texas Institute for Geophysics) 
Jeff Severinghaus (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) 

Dates: September 25-27, 2024 (including half-day session for Early Career Researchers!) 
Location: Herndon, Virginia (near Dulles airport) 
Website: https://www.rapidaccessicedrill.org/2nd-raid-science-planning-workshop/ 
Expression of Interest Deadline: July 15, 2024 
Registration Deadline: August 15, 2024 
Costs: No registration fee. Meals will be provided to all participants during the Workshop. Rooms in the Workshop hotel will be available at a discounted rate (participants to pay on their own). Travel support is available for 15 Early Career participants (by application).

Workshop goals: 
(1) rejuvenate & grow scientific user community for RAID; 
(2) enable new generation of early-career scientists in cutting-edge Antarctic research; 
(3) promote inter–disciplinary research synergies, including use of new cryosphere technologies; 
(4) engage the geophysical community for reconnaissance, site selection & data analysis; 
(5) help integrate RAID and COLDEX activities; 
(6) stimulate new cross-disciplinary research & proposal collaborations; 
(7) develop new concepts to support traverse platforms in Antarctica; and 
(8) create a new Long-Range Science Plan for RAID based on community research goals & priorities for future drilling. 

The workshop conveners seek a diverse group of participants for this NSF-funded workshop. Space is limited! Reserve your place and participate in this important workshop that will steer the future of RAID as an interdisciplinary research platform for deep ice-sheet access. An Expression of Interest (EOI) form is available for all participants. The deadline for submitting your EOI form is July 15, 2024. This includes an Application for Travel Support for Early Career Researchers. 

For detailed information, costs, key dates, and a link to the EOI form, visit the workshop’s website: 

RAID drilling modules at Minna Bluff, Antarctica, during the 2019/20 Antarctic field trial. Credit: RAID website.

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.

Successful Support of 2018-2019 Antarctic RAID Project

In early January, IDP engineer Jay Johnson deployed to McMurdo Station to lead planned Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID) maintenance efforts. The team of five set-up the drill rig and completed the modifications and test objectives requested by PIs John Goodge and Jeff Severinghaus. Primary accomplishments include:

  • Repair and testing of the hydraulic system
  • Testing of the Fluid Recirculation System
  • Documentation of operation and winterization procedures
  • Installation and testing of new components
  • Deployment of a new conductor casing

In addition, the team developed procedural efficiencies to reduce rig set-up and take-down time. Pack-up and module/parts organization will be completed early in the second quarter.

Loading the 10-foot-long auger stem onto the Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID). Credit: Jay Johnson

Exterior view of the RAID system. Credit: Jay Johnson

Construction of the Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID) Begins!

The Division of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation has recently awarded an $8.97M grant to the University of Minnesota Duluth to begin construction of the Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID). This new drilling system will be able to penetrate the Antarctic ice sheets in order to take cores of the deepest ice, sample across the glacial bed, and continue coring into bedrock below. This new technology will provide a critical first look at the interface between the major ice caps and their subglacial geology.

RAID is a mobile drilling system capable of making several long boreholes in a single field season in Antarctica. The projected long-term research use of the RAID system is planned to begin in late 2017 by traversing to East Antarctica via the Amundsen-Scott station at the South Pole. The RAID system is designed to be self-sufficient once leaving a fixed U.S. research base, and it is compact enough to be operated by a 3-person drilling crew.

DOSECC Exploration Services (DES), LLC, a drilling and engineering company based in Salt Lake City, is the lead contractor to construct and test the drilling system. DES took the lead in development and engineering of the drill design, which began in June 2013.

John Goodge, professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, is the lead principal investigator on the project. He studies geotectonic evolution of continental crust in East Antarctica and the Transantarctic Mountains. Jeff Severinghaus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, co-principal investigator, conducts research on Antarctic paleoclimate by study of ice cores.

RAID Concept. RAID objectives include a long borehole through thick Antarctic ice, and short cores of deep (old) ice, the glacial bed, and subglacial bedrock. Credit: John Goodge

Construction of the drilling system began in June, 2014. Initial field tests of the system in North America are scheduled for early 2015, to be followed by a set of field validation trials in Antarctica in the 2016-17 austral summer.

The RAID platform is designed to address a wide range of interdisciplinary research goals of the international scientific community. These include a search for polar paleoclimate records in ice greater than 1 million years old, observation and sampling of the base of the Antarctic ice cap, and recovery of rock cores from ice-covered geologic provinces of Antarctica, a virtually unknown continent larger than the continental U.S. By keeping the boreholes open with a stabilizing fluid after drilling is complete, researchers will also be able to lower instruments and logging devices into the boreholes in order to measure thermal gradient, heat flow, ice accumulation history, and ice deformation processes. RAID will also sample for extremophile micro-organisms that may be present at the base of the ice sheets.

This new drilling system is based on modification of an industry-standard diamond rock-coring system as used in mineral exploration. Threaded metal drill pipe sections will be assembled at the surface as the drill cuts its way downward through ice using customized metal bits. A special circulating fluid will be used to lubricate the drill pipe, maintain proper temperature at the cutting surface, and return ice cuttings to the surface, where they will be separated from the recirculating fluid. Near the bottom of the ice sheet, diamond tools will be lowered through the drill string to enable coring of ice, material in the glacial bed, and the solid bedrock below. These cores will be returned to the surface in sections by use of a wireline retrieval system. Once drilling is complete, the boreholes will be maintained with a stabilizing fluid, capped, and made available for future down-hole measurements.

RAID Operational Layout. RAID is designed to penetrate up to 3,300 meters of ice (nearly 11,000 ft) and take sample cores in less than 200 hours. This rapid performance will allow a drilling crew to operate from start to finish in about 10 days before moving on to the next drilling site. Credit: John Goodge

RAID is designed to penetrate up to 3,300 meters of ice (nearly 11,000 ft) and take sample cores in less than 200 hours. This rapid performance will allow a drilling crew to operate from start to finish in about 10 days before moving on to the next drilling site.

RAID is unique because it can provide fast borehole access through thick ice; short ice cores at the base of the ice sheet for paleoclimate study; cores of the glacial bed to determine flow conditions; cores of subglacial bedrock for age dating and crustal history; and create boreholes that can be used as an observatory in the ice sheets. Together, the rapid drilling capability and mobility of the drilling system, along with ice-penetrating imaging methods, will allow scientists to build a 3D picture of the interior Antarctic ice sheets in a way that has never been done before.

RAID contact information:

John Goodge
Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of Minnesota-Duluth

Jeff Severinghaus
Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
UC-San Diego

Rapid Access Ice Drill

After completing revisions to the drill design and Prospectus document, IDDO sent one engineer and one contract engineer/driller to Indianapolis to visit Laibe Corporation. There they were able to view several mineral exploration rigs and discuss applications for Antarctic drilling with company management. With support from IDPO/IDDO, a proposal was submitted by P.I. John Goodge for development of the drill.

Rapid Access Drill Feasibility

IDDO Engineer, Michael Gerasimoff, completed the feasibility and concept of a drill capable to quickly access the beds of ice sheets and ice intervals of interest. The drill system, called the Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID), would be based on a mineral-exploration industry "diamond-drilling" rig and is envisioned to be capable of drilling through up to 3300 m of ice and collecting several hundred meters of core from the subglacial material.

Rapid Access Ice Drill (2011 Winter)

IDPO led a series of planning meetings involving community members, IDDO, industry, and logistics support representatives to come to consensus on science requirements and overall design features of a unique drill, the Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID). This novel drill will be able to drill through 3.3 km of an ice sheet, retrieving ice core samples from selected depths and drilling up to 25 m of rock core from beneath the ice. An IDDO team led by Michael Gerasimoff evaluated the feasibility of several possible technologies on the basis of meeting science requirements, cost and logistical burden. By the end of December 2011, IDDO had substantially developed a concept for the drill that would meet the science requirements at a reasonable cost and logistical burden. IDDO will produce a report in January 2012 that includes a technical description of the drill system concept, estimates of cost, and schedule for development.

For more information about the RAID, visit: http://www.rapidaccessicedrill.org/

Rapid Access Ice Drill (RAID)

During the April 2011 Ice Drilling Science Community Planning Meeting, the need for a rapid access ice drilling (RAID) system was articulated. The objective behind the RAID system is to drill through 4 kilometers of ice in a week, taking pieces of ice core along the way, and then recover bedrock core. Such a drill has long been desired by the glaciology and geology communities; after the April workshop, John Goodge (University of Minnesota-Duluth) asked for IDPO/IDDO assistance in generating information that could support a Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) proposal for a RAID drill that he will submit in January 2012. In October, IDPO held a meeting in Madison, WI attended by scientists John Goodge and Jeff Severinghaus (UC-San Diego), IDDO engineers, industry experts, and IDPO to discuss possibilities and tradeoffs of technologies associated with development of a RAID system. This set the stage for IDDO work on the conceptual plan for a RAID system this fall. The science requirements, initially compiled during the April 2011 IDPO Community Planning workshop, have been subsequently refined by John Goodge and Jeff Severinghaus as part of the scientist-engineer-logistics discussions in biweekly IDPO-organized webteleconferences following the October meeting. Using the input provided by IDPO/IDDO, John Goodge will submit an MRI proposal in January 2012 for construction of the drill.

2011 Science Planning Workshop Review

On April 15-16, 2011 the IDPO sponsored an interdisciplinary Ice Drilling Science Community Planning Workshop held in Herndon, VA. The purpose of the workshop was to identify future Arctic and Antarctic ice drilling and coring sites, the ice drilling technology that will be needed at the sites, and the timeline over the coming decade for conducting the science. The workshop was well attended, with thirty-four people from the science, science support, and science funding communities in attendance, and proved to be very productive. The first day of the workshop started with short presentations from the scientists discussing their current ice drilling technology needs/desires. The afternoon involved forming four break-out groups centered around the following subject areas: (1) subglacial aquatic environments access drilling; (2) 10-year plan for shallow (1-400 meter deep) coring capabilities; (3) rapid access ice drilling (RAID) system; and (4) hot water drilling. Each break-out group discussed future drilling sites, drilling requirements, and tentative schedules, and began summarizing the information in a short white paper. Day two continued with the individual break-out group discussions and white paper development, and concluded with each break-out group reporting back to the entire workshop on their developments and whole group discussions.

Results from the workshop are reflected in updates to the science descriptions, timeline and planning matrices in the Long Range Science Plan and the corresponding Long Range Drilling Technology Plan to help ensure that the drilling technology will be ready when needed by the community's science.

For the workshop agenda and the list of workshop attendees, visit the workshop's web site: https://icedrill.org/meetings/2011-ice-drilling-science-community-planning-workshop

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.