Ice core drills may be powered by various sources, but the two most common are fuel-powered generators and solar panels. Solar panels are a reliable, pollution-free and light-weight source of power. The use of solar powered drills for ice core recovery was pioneered by the Ice Core Paleoclimatology Group at OSU and Bruce Koci of the Polar Ice Coring Office in the early 1980s. The superiority of solar power for ice core drilling (where adequate solar insolation is available) was first demonstrated by the recovery of two cores the bedrock on the Quelccaya Ice Cap in 1983. The ice cap margin is shown on the left. The solar powered drill system is shown to the right. Since then, several ice cores have been obtained from glaciers at high elevation (>5,000 meters above sea level) using special, portable drills powered with solar panels. The photo to the left done shows the solar powered system used on Huascarán.
A new ethanol thermal electric drilling system has been developed for intermediate (1,000 meters) ice coring in cold glaciers. The system is light-weight (about 1,000 kg including a 6 kw diesel generator and a 6.6 meter diameter shelter), environmentally safe and capable of recovering a 100 mm diameter ice core at the rate of 400-500 meters per week. The system can be installed easily in 16 hours, and currently is ready for use in the Franz Josef Land area.A cold storage building (shown in photo on the right) contains two 30' by 35' freezer compartments with rack-type storage units which are maintained at -30o to -40oC and can hold about 3,000 meters of frozen ice cores. The freezer facility has three main compressors and a backup compressor and a gas-powered system consisting of a generator (shown in photo on the left). Ice core processing such as the cutting and pre-preparation of samples for lab analyses as well as various analytical measurements on solid ice such as stratigraphy and structure studies (photos below), are conducted in the two cold labs (-10oC) attached to the deep(-30oF) storage unit.
The rest of the analyses are performed in the large Class 100 Clean Room facility (shown above). Class 100 means there are less than 100 particles (diameter > 0.5 µm) per cubic foot of air. Inside the clean room, pre-cut ice samples are cleaned using highly purified deionized water from several Millipore water systems and prepared for dust and chemical studies. Microparticle concentrations in melted samples are determined in 16 size ranges using Model TAII Coulter Counters and in 256 size ranges using the Coulter Multisizer. Inorganic species in melted samples are measured using an atomic absorption spectrophotometer and several ion chromatographs, one of which is equipped with an autosampler (shown below).
Back to the Ice Core Paleoclimatology Group Home Page