The hand auger
The hand auger is our simplest and lightest drill system, collecting 74 mm diameter core from the top 10 m of firn (firn is the stage between snow and ice). This drill consists of a drill head with ice cutters to drill into the firn, a core barrel which holds the core intact when pulled to the surface, connecting rods to extend to 10 m depth, and a hand crank for the operator to rotate the drill from the surface. The complete system is contained in two relatively easy-to-handle boxes, weighing a total of 80 kg. It is thus very easy to deploy using a small aircraft or on a ski-doo.
When rotated, the drill slowly cuts away a ring of firn descending deeper and deeper and filling the central cavity with an undamaged firn core. When the core barrel is full, the operator pulls the core barrel to the surface using the extender rods, extracts the core from the central cavity, and lowers the drill back into the borehole to repeat the process. After approximately 15 "runs" a complete 10 m long 74 mm diameter firn core has been brought to surface. The cores are fitted together, measured, labelled, and packed into ice core boxes ready to be shipped back to the laboratories for analysis.
Ice Core Drilling Projects