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Hot Water Drilling 101 – How to drill through an ice shelf

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Alexander Brearley.

If you want to know what’s happening underneath an 800m thick ice shelf then melting your way through using a hot water drill is the quickest and easiest method. BAS has been engaged in hot water drilling activities for the past 25+ years using the technique to access the oceanic regime beneath ice shelves across the continent. The Polar Oceans Shelf Seas group is responsible for a number of different drilling systems tailored to various ice thicknesses and conditions ranging from shallow 100m thick Arctic ice shelves to deep 2000m+ thick Antarctic ice sheets. Whilst the basic principle of hot water drilling and the equipment used is relatively straightforward, persuading the various components to work together to produce a suitable access hole in a harsh polar environment presents a number of challenges. I’ll talk through these challenges, the basic principles of hot water drilling, the various components that make up a drill system and the detail the projects in which this technique has been used successfully.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey Happy Hour Seminar Series series.

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