Location of Drilling
Hi, I am Emily Johns. I have been following your expedition. I have a question: Do you drill in the same spot every year or do you regularly change position of the drill?
Thanks a lot! Good luck!
Thank you for your question. It is nice to know that people are following along!
When drilling a deep ice core like the WAIS Divide core, we always return to the same borehole. Several years of site selection are involved with picking the best site for the ice core. Once the site is picked, we begin to drill one hole. This hole, now over 2,700 meters deep, is kept open through the use of drill fluids. These fluids don't freeze so they keep the hole from collapsing during the winter, when we are unable to drill. When we arrive at the beginning of the season, we put the drill down the same hole and can start drilling right where we left off. It is really neat to think that we can drill one hole and keep it open for over five years. In fact, when we are done drilling the ice core, the borehole will remain open for future science. That said, the WAIS Divide borehole could remain open for decades.
Each season we drill at WAIS Divide we get deeper in the borehole. The current goal for the project is to drill to a depth of 3,330 meters. We are currently at 2,800 meters. As far as the deepest ice cores ever collected, sites in Antarctica have yielded the most ice due to slow accumulation rates. To date, the deepest boreholes are around 3,500 meters.
Keep the questions coming!