Collecting Ice Cores

In order to sample ice formed by the compression of successive layers of snow year after year, drilling operations make a vertical cut using a core drill, a steel tube attached to a power cable shaped like a screw and equipped with cutting blades. The steel tube, which is approximately 1.50 cm long, is driven into the ice by its rotational functionality. 
Carottage Bolivie
Once it is completely driven in – and thus filled with ice – glaciologists extract the tube, which now contains an ice cylinder known as an ice core, measuring approximately 1.0 metre in length and 10 cm in diameter. They then repeat the process in the borehole. Each core is placed in a protective cover that is numbered and marked with its location and depth of extraction, as well as its top and bottom end. 

They are then carefully stored in isothermal storage boxes while awaiting transport in a refrigerated container. The cold chain that must be maintained from the drilling site to storage is particularly sensitive, and represents a crucial element in such an ice core drilling operation.

Une carotte de glace

For more than fifty years, scientists have taken core samples for their own research.

As part of Ice Memory, 7 operations were carried out to collect heritage cores that will be stored in Antarctica. Drilling Roadmap

Published on  March 17, 2023
Updated on April 3, 2023