Skip to content

Clean subglacial access: Prospects for future deep hot-water drilling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140304
Number of pages14
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Volume374
Issue number2059
Early online date14 Dec 2015
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Sep 2015
DateE-pub ahead of print - 14 Dec 2015
DatePublished (current) - 28 Jan 2016

Abstract

Accessing and sampling subglacial environments deep beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet presents several challenges to existing drilling technologies. With over half of the ice sheet believed to be resting on a wet bed, drilling down to this environment must conform to international agreements on environmental stewardship and protection, making clean hot-water drilling the most viable option. Such a drill, and its water recovery system, must be capable of accessing significantly greater ice depths than previous hot-water drills, and remain fully operational after connecting with the basal hydrological system. The Subglacial Lake Ellsworth (SLE) project developed a comprehensive plan for deep (greater than 3000 m) subglacial lake research, involving the design and development of a clean deep-ice hot-water drill. However, during fieldwork in December 2012 drilling was halted after a succession of equipment issues culminated in a failure to link with a subsurface cavity and abandonment of the access holes. The lessons learned from this experience are presented here. Combining knowledge gained from these lessons with experience from other hot-water drilling programmes, and recent field testing, we describe the most viable technical options and operational procedures for future clean entry into SLE and other deep subglacial access targets.

    Research areas

  • Clean access, Deep hot-water drilling, Environmental stewardship, Subglacial environment

Download statistics

No data available

Documents

Documents

  • Full-text PDF (final published version)

    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via The Royal Society at http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/374/2059/20140304. Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Final published version, 607 KB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY

DOI

View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups