Ice Coring Drills

The ECLIPSE Ice Coring Drill

The ECLIPSE ice coring drill is a modified version of the Danish intermediate-depth tipping-tower drill designed at the University of Copenhagen. This drill is intended for drilling dry holes to depths of up to 350m. The design has been proven at locations in the Canadian High Arctic (Agassiz and Penny Icecaps), Greenland (Renland), Tibet (6500m elevation on Far East Rongbuk Glacier) and the Yukon Territory (Eclipse Dome, St. Elias Range).

The ECLIPSE drill follows the design of the HILDA and HILDA-2 versions of the Danish tipping-tower drill. HILDA was designed and built at the Glaciology Section (Terrain Sciences Division) and the Instrument Development Workshop (Mineral Resources Division), both of the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) ( HILDA-2 was designed and built at the National Research Council of Canada. The two drills are identical with the exception that HILDA holds a 500m steel cable and HILDA-2 holds a 500m Kevlar® cable. Icefield Instruments Inc. holds a licensing agreement with the GSC for the complete mechanical drawings for HILDA-2.

The ECLIPSE drill consists of three components: a drill sonde, a winch, and a control box. The sonde has three major components: a motor/anti-torque section, an inner barrel, and an outer barrel.

The cutter head is fitted to the lower end of the inner barrel which in turn is fitted with external nylon flights. As the inner barrel and cutter head turn, chips are carried up the flights and dumped on top of the ice core. Riflings cut into the inside of the stationary outer barrel assist in moving the chips. Special spring-loaded core dogs are responsible for gripping, breaking, and retaining the ice core. The anti-torque section used three leaf springs to prevent the outer barrel rotating. The cable connection includes a hammer, thrust bearing, and slipring; should the anti-torque springs loose their grip, the cable does not get twisted.

Core is removed at the surface by tipping the winch tower to a horizontal position, removing three locking pins, and extracting the inner barrel from the sonde. The core and ice chips can then be removed from the top of the inner barrel.

Two versions of the ECLIPSE drill are available: one producing 82mm diameter core and one producing 101mm diameter core.

Specifications (82mm version):

Drill Sonde

(1) power ratings are measured at the drill motor; line losses in the cable add about 15W to these figures


Control System

System Specifications


Trip Time


Manuals and documentation

Kevlar® and Teflon® are a registered trademark of Dupont

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+ Johnson Space Center (JSC)
+ Norsk Polarinstitutt (Norway)
+ Geological Survey of Canada
+ Space Science and Engineering Center, U. Wisconsin
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