End of Season Field Reports

2014-2015 Field Season

Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) Activities at WAIS Divide 2014-2015 (T-350)
NSF-OPP supported
PI: Mary Albert (Dartmouth College)

Field Team:

  • Jim Koehler
  • Don Kirkpatrick
  • Mike Waszkiewicz
  • Jeffrey Donenfeld

Summary of Field Season Objectives:

  • Retrograde any IDDO equipment currently in MCM
  • Ship to Pole spare chip blower and gloves
  • Get both cranes operational
  • Remove drip pans and ventilation from slot
  • Disassemble DISC drill and prep for shipping
  • Extend bore hole casing
  • Work with ASC to backfill slot and compact snow per Chief Scientist Kendrick Taylor's instructions
  • Assist Gary Clow with operation of USGS (now IDDO) logging winch (Waszkiewicz)

Summary of Field Season Results:

  • Retrograded all IDDO equipment already in MCM
  • Delayed in MCM; Don Voigt shipped blower and gloves to South Pole
  • Once at WAIS Divide, disassembled and palletized the majority of the drill components and the blue gantry crane
  • Field season extended due to delays in getting to WAIS Divide
  • Remaining equipment to disassemble consists of the yellow gantry crane, crane tracks, crane cable trays, and palletize control room
  • Still need to extend bore hole casing and backfill slot per instructions
  • Pack-up remaining tools and crate for shipping
  • Supported borehole logging operations; trained a second IDDO winch operator (Jim Koehler), after Gary Clow had to depart as originally scheduled on January 7.

Project Execution:

  • Dec 5 – Koehler, Donenfeld, Kirkpatrick and Waszkiewicz flew from CONUS to CHC
  • Dec 6 – Collect clothing at CDC
  • Dec 7 – Koehler, Donenfeld, Kirkpatrick and Waszkiewicz flew from CHC to MCM
  • Originally scheduled for five days in MCM for training and shipping cargo, but due to extreme weather and aircraft delays, 3 of 4 IDDO personnel ended up spending four weeks in MCM.
  • Dec 10 – Waszkiewicz and Gary Clow fly from MCM to WAIS
  • IDDO notified by NSF on 1/4/15 that the season could be extended until 01/28/15
  • Koehler arrived at WAIS on 1/5/15
  • Kirkpatrick and Donenfeld arrived at WAIS on 1/6/15
  • During the week of 1/5/15, the blue crane VFD was installed and disassembly was completed for the mixing tank and centrifuge. The level-wind and winch were also safely disconnected, lifted out of the winch pit and were removed from the Arch.
  • Koehler was trained as a second logging winch operator to allow for the continuation of borehole logging after Gary Clow had to depart as originally scheduled on 1/7/15
  • The level-wind, winch, and tower were palletized and prepared for shipment during the week of 01/12/15
  • The shipping container was organized as items were being packed. The winch pit matting was also removed and readied for shipment.
  • The IDDO team was notified their departure date had been moved up from 1/28/15 to 1/22/15.
  • Cargo was staged, the slot was cleaned, and equipment prep occurred during the final three days on site at WAIS.
  • Koehler, Donenfeld, Kirkpatrick and Waszkiewicz flew from WAIS to MCM on 1/21/15
  • Koehler, Donenfeld, Kirkpatrick and Waszkiewicz flew from MCM to CHC on 1/28/15
  • Koehler, Donenfeld, Kirkpatrick and Waszkiewicz flew from CHC to CONUS on 1/31/15

Problems Encountered:

  • Primary problem encountered was lack of flights which kept us in MCM for four weeks
  • Building deformation didn't allow for full travel for either crane
  • Rigid drip pans deeply imbedded in slot, especially behind the ladder, were very difficult to remove and required heavy equipment to force them out
  • Arch floor heaving made walking and moving equipment difficult as well
  • Worn heavy equipment was maxed out while lifting the blue crane and when pulling the DISC Drill winch drum out of the winch pit


  • The crew worked very well together given this was the first time they had met and only one individual was familiar with the DISC drill.
  • Despite the extremely shortened field season, we finished many of the disassembly tasks


  • Recommend IDDO send 1-2 people back to WAIS Divide during the 2015-2016 field season to finish the remaining tasks that were not completed due to the much abbreviated 2014-2015 season. IDDO should be the ones to complete disassembly of the DISC Drill equipment, owned by NSF, of which IDDO is the custodian.
    • IDDO has discussed the borehole casing extension with both Matthew Kippenhan from ASC as well as WAIS Divide Chief Scientist Kendrick Taylor. Extending the casing correctly and backfilling snow around the casing correctly is critical. ASC, like IDDO, is also faced with add-on seasons at WAIS Divide in light of the 2013 government shutdown and the abbreviated 2014-2015 season due to weather and aircraft availability. ASC does not have unlimited manpower and requests that IDDO direct and assist with borehole casing extension in 2015-2016 and possibly again in 2016-2017 when IDDO plans to assist borehole logging scientists at WAIS Divide.

The DISC Drill's winch drum successfully removed from the drilling arch. Photo: Don Voigt.

Lifting the DISC Drill's winch drum out of the winch pit. Photo: Don Voigt.

View of what's remaining inside of the core handling arch. Photo: Don Voigt.

View of the inside of the drilling arch showing the uneven deformation/buckling of the floor. Photo: Don Voigt.

View of the inside of the drilling side of the arch showing the buckling of the railings due to the uneven buckling/deformation of the floor. Photo: Don Voigt.

View of the inside of the borehole logging tent and the USGS (now IDDO) Deep Logging Winch. Photo: Don Voigt.