Situation Report #26, 14. January 2020

Little Dome C - Beyond EPICA Drilling Site (75.29917 degS, 122.44516 degE)

Personnel: Saverio Panichi (ENEA), Michele Scalet (ENEA), Jakob Schwander (unibe), Thomas Stocker (unibe), Remo Walther (unibe), Massimo Frezzotti (U Roma 3)

Weather: morning fog and strong winds, sunny balmy afternoon, weak wind

Camp maintenance continued and focused on cleaning and preparing the modules for the colder temperatures to come. In the morning strong winds and low temperatures persisted. In spite of an estimated wind chill of ‒50°C Remo braved the elements, went out and flew his kite at the BELDC site. He drew some nice figures in the grey morning sky. This activity nicely filled the forced waiting time until Radix was ready.

Overnight, the Radix drill was stuck at 192.5 m depth, but with a steady pull of about 70 kg it came loose after the morning coffee break. We noticed that some very fine ice particles (<50 μm) have clustered inside the drill shaft at the entrance the flow gauge which lead to a complete block of the drill. We therefore carried out a filter run of the hydraulic tube and removed about 30 g of fine ice particles from the 3 km long tube. With a number of further test runs that were unsuccessful, we counted our final options. 

It turned out that the many steps we made finally bore fruit. The drill caught on and for just over 1 hour we were able to drill 50 m! We were happy to note a constant fluid pressure significantly below the limits that we pushed Radix for in the past days, and a steady production of chips. We essentially rushed by our previously set goal for today (drilling depth 200 m) and finished today's drilling at 243.0 m! Easy to imagine that we had a relaxed dinner tonight. 

Radix drilling depth: 243.0 m.

LDC, 14.1.2020