Ice Coring Drills The ECLIPSE


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).

See the ECLIPSE Ice Drill Documentation


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.


Drill Sonde

  • Overall length: 3.6m (141")
  • Mass: 50kg (110lbs)
  • Sonde Diameter: 108mm (4.25")
  • Core Diameter: 82mm (3.25") - a 101mm/4" version is available
  • Drill motor: 3750rpm 200VDC motor
  • Cutter head rotation speed: 75rpm
  • Cutter head design: 3 teeth with interchangeable heels to set 3, 4, or 5mm cut/revolution
  • Hammer and slipring assembly
  • Power consumption:
    • Idling at full speed (200VDC at 0.6A): 120W
    • Typical drilling (200VDC at 0.9A): 180W
    • Maximum power at full RPM (200VDC at 2.0A): 400W
    Power ratings are measured at the drill motor; line losses in the cable add about 15W to these figures


  • Power supply 24VDC or 115/230VAC
  • Mass: 120kg (265lbs) with 250m cable and 24VDC motor
  • Winch rate:
    • 0.35m/s for power consumption of 650W (standard 24VDC motor)
    • 0.8m/s for power consumption of 1.2 kW (standard 115/230VAC motor)
  • Cable
    • 4.8mm (3/16") steel counter-wrapped armoured wireline cable (Vector/Schlumberger 4-18P)
    • Breaking strength of 1430kg/3150lbs
    • Termination at sonde with PMI Evergrip unit
  • Cable length: 250-500m
  • Electric brake on motor
  • Hand brake on winch drum
  • Chain drive with separately-geared hand winch
  • Level winder
  • Tower height above surface: 2.65m
  • Depth of drilling trench below surface: 1.6m minimum

Control System

  • RPM and current for drill and winch
  • Start, stop, and speed controls for drill and winch
  • Emergency stop switch on winch
  • LED depth encoder displays depth in metres
  • Input voltage and total current meters
  • Fused as appropriate

System Specifications

  • Total mass of drill system as described above (250m cable): 200kg (includes control box and spare parts kit)
  • Drill can be dismantled and carried by hand
  • Mass of heaviest component (winch drum with 250m cable): 27.5kg
  • Length of longest component (outer barrel): 2.4m
  • Rigidized aluminium transport cases


  • Pressure proofing of sonde to 1.4MPa (200psi)
  • Booster pump for drilling in fluid
  • 6.4mm (1/4") steel cable or Kevlar® cable
  • Custom power supply options
  • 101mm core version
  • Teflon®-coated cutter heels
  • Titanium cutter head
  • Utra-clean core recovery system (designed for trace metal sampling)

Trip Time

  • Actual round trip travel time (includes drilling and core removal/bagging) for 24VDC/82mm drill system - winching can be faster with AC power
  • 18 min @ 160m


  • Please contact us for current pricing and options.
  • Standard pricing options include:
    • 82mm sonde
    • 101mm sonde
    • Winch (including control system, level winder, and 350-500m cable)
    • Winch as above without level winder
  • Please contact us for delivery times and detailed parts lists. Normal delivery time is six months after receipt of order.
  • The harmonized commodity code for ice coring drills is 8430.49.00.99 and the code for accessories and components is 8431.43.00.90
Kevlar® and Teflon® are a registered trademark of Dupont

Our Clients

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

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