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11 December, 2002

Drilling Extravaganza

Date: 12/11/02=09

Latitude: 82=B0 00=92 03.59=94 S

Longitude: 110=B0 00=92 29.59=94 W

Time of Observations: 10 PM local time

Temperature: -16 C/ 3 F

Wind speed: 6 knots

Wind Chill: -23 C/ -9 F

Wind direction: Northerly

Meters of ice collected: 142m=09

By Susan Kaspari

As Betsy put it, we were busy as a beehive in the middle of nowhere today. It was an overcast day, but the winds died down and made working outside a pleasure. Betsy did three successful ozone measuring balloon launches (the beanie babies went along for one of the launches). Markus drilled ice cores for the continuous melter and worked on a firn air vs. snow air ozone concentration experiment. Gordon and Blue did a survey at their mass balance site and started drilling the Beta ice cores with the drill. Paul, Mark, Dan and Susan drilled ice cores with the drill. Brian worked on his radar antennas, and Jim was the man around town helping Brian and Betsy out and double-checking the radar data. Lynn and Carl welded brackets for a tailgate for the Berco sled, loaded empty fuel barrels on the sleds and organized cargo. Andrea was again successful at fattening us up and keeping us happy. We had a yummy BBQ dinner with fresh potato salad.

The name of the game in camp today was ice core drilling. US ITASE uses two drills, the diameter drill, and the diameter Eclipse drill that is our primary drill. The Eclipse drill was designed by Icefield Instruments of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory and has been used in=20 Antarctica, on Mt. Everest, in the Tien Shan range in Asia, and on Mt. Logan in the Yukon. The Eclipse drill that we use was specially built and purchased for US ITASE. The advantage of the Eclipse drill is that it is lightweight (800 lbs), can be broken down into 50-60 lbs. bundles, can be assembled in the field, is mounted on a sled, and is a dry drill. Dry drilling has no impact on the environment. In comparison, wet drills go to deeper depths but require fluid that is the same density of ice to keep the drill hole from closing up. The Eclipse drill is an electromechanical drill made of aluminum and stainless steel that can be powered by solar panels or gasoline. The winch on the drill requires 3000 watts of power when raising the core, so we use a gasoline powered generator to run the drill.

The drill has an inner and an outer core barrel. The inner barrel has cutters on the end of it, and as the drill is lowered into the ice the inner barrel spins and cuts the ice. The outer barrel has anti-torque strips at the top of the drill to prevent it from spinning while in the hole. We drill ~1m long pieces of ice. When the drill is lifted the=20 core dogs, which are small cutters with springs attached, grab into the ice, break it, and prevent the ~1 meter long ice core from falling out of the barrel as it is lifted back up out of the hole. Ice chips from drilling the ice core are pulled up with the ice core in the top of the core barrel. Operation of the Eclipse drill requires a professional driller. Mark knows the drill inside out and does an amazing job keeping the drill running smoothly. After a piece of ice is drilled, the whole drill is lifted out of the hole with the winch, and the core barrel tilts horizontally so the ice core can be extracted. Susan measures the length, diameter and any breaks on the ice core and Dan weighs and packages it for shipment back to the United States. One meter of ice weighs about 4 kg. This adds up to be a lot of weight to haul around in the field. The drill, designed by Mark, is similar to the Eclipse drill except that it is smaller, lighter - only 200 lbs and is powered by solar panels and a hand winch. We have to dig a 1m pit to lower the Eclipse drill into the ice, whereas the drill can begin drilling at the ice surface, which means we don't have to dig snow pits. The Eclipse drill is better designed for drilling at deeper depths (it has a 200 m cable) and provides a larger core so that more analyses can be done. The 2 drill's advantages are that it is lightweight, highly maneuverable, and can be operated without a professional driller.

It's great to finally be on the road and doing our research. We'll wrap up our research at site 1 tomorrow, pack up, and the road trip=20 will continue on to scenic site 2.

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