Fifty Years of Soviet and Russian Drilling Activity in Polar and Non-Polar Ice: A Chronological History
ENGINEERING RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER HANOVER NH COLD REGIONS RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING LAB
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Soviet and Russian drilling activity in ice began in 1955 while conducting temperature surveys on a glacier in Franz-Josef Land in the Arctic and continued to 1960 on the glaciers of the polar Ural and the northern Tien Shen mountain ranges. In 1956 the first Complex Antarctic Expedition CAE was formed and the first Antarctic drilling was conducted in October of 1956 near Mirny Station. Later, the expeditions were referred to as Soviet Antarctic Expeditions SAE and Russian Antarctic Expeditions RAE. Early efforts were conducted with hand drilling equipment followed by mechanical rotary and percussion drilling techniques. Thermal flame and thermal electric boring drills and later thermal coring drills eventually culminated in drills of the TELGA type for thermal drilling deep, dry holes. One such hole reached a depth of over 900 m at Vostok. Use of TBZS type thermal drills for drilling in fluid-filled holes were also developed, as was a technique using anti-freeze to dissolve the melt water formed, the dilute solution then remaining in the hole to provide the necessary hydrostatic balance. An electro-mechanical drill KEMS was first introduced on Vavilov Glacier, Severnaya Zemlya Russian Arctic in 1984 and then in 1989 at Vostok Station. Five major holes have been drilled at Vostok, the last one stopped in 2006 RAE 51 at a depth of 3650 m, 100 m above Lake Vostok. This report chronologically summarizes the Soviet and Russian efforts over the last 50 years.
- Snow, Ice and Permafrost
- Machinery and Tools