DOSECC Expands Fabrication, Engineering & Welding Division


Global Geoscience and Drilling Company Division Serves Construction and Automotive Clients


DOSECC, a global geoscience, engineering and core drilling company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, today announced the expansion of their commercial Fabrication Division, which serves local and regional architectural steel and custom metalwork clients in addition to the firm’s complex drilling operations around the globe.  The 10,000 square foot facility provides precision fabrication and welding services for construction, aftermarket automotive enhancements, custom metalwork projects, as well as repairs to clients across the Intermountain west.

“Our in-house fabrication, engineering and welding team has developed custom hardware for DOSECC’s complex global drilling operations for decades, and we are accustomed to meeting the highest demands for precision and performance in some of the most extreme conditions around the world,” explained Philippe Wyffels, DOSECC C.F.O., “It is fitting that more private and commercial ventures outside the drilling industry are increasingly turning to our facility for their construction and custom fabrication projects.”

The division’s growing staff includes a wide range of capabilities, including mechanical and structural engineering, 3D-2D draft design (Solidworks), plasma cutting, machining, hydraulic and electrical work. Welding capabilities include aluminum, stainless steel, and cast iron, with MIG, TIG, and SMAW processes.  Staff certifications include a wide range of welding certifications in addition to Professional Engineers (PE), Structural Engineers (SE), and Project Management Professionals (PMP).

“Our drilling work requires us to uphold a higher standard of performance, as we don’t have the luxury of simply hoping it will work when we design a custom piece of equipment for a remote drill,” explains Jordan Whitaker, head of DOSECC’s fabrication division. “We engineer and test until we have 100% confidence before it leaves our facility, which saves hours and money in the field. Some fabrication shops simply build a customer’s design and send it out the door, whereas our engineering team takes the extra steps to test and work with the design–just as we do with our drilling projects–so we are confident it will serve its intended function without fail. Thus our tagline: Engineered Confidence.”

DOSECC has launched a new website to showcase the capabilities its Fabrication Division for outside commercial clients. For more information, please visit DOSECCFabrication.com.

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DOSECC Selected for Scientific Drilling Project on Surtsey Island, Iceland

Surtsey core drilling services, scientific drilling

Global Geotechnology Firm to Assist with Wide Range of Scientific Inquiry on the New Icelandic Island


DOSECC, a global core drilling company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, today announced that they have been selected for a scientific drilling project on the newborn island of Surtsey, off the coast of Iceland. The project will gather data for a wide range of scientific inquiries, including volcanology, hydrothermal alteration, subsurface thermal ecosystems, and even further understanding of anthropological geology. For example, the rare mineral aluminum tobermorite in the young island was a primary cement ingredient in early Roman cements made with saltwater which still stand to this day. The Principal Investigators on this project are Dr. Marie Jackson from the University of Utah and Dr. Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson from the University of Iceland.

“A similar hole was drilled 35 years ago by USGS, and we are going to drill an identical hole next to it to see what’s happened since the island erupted in 1963,” explained DOSECC President and geoscientist Dennis Nielson, Ph.D. “We want to see how much it has cooled off, how much additional rock alteration has taken place, and also do something that hasn’t been done there before: set up an observatory for life in the subsurface.”

The project is funded by the International Continental Drilling Program in cooperation with a cooperative of scientific groups across Iceland and Europe. Environmental protection efforts are included in the project to ensure the protection of the World Heritage Site and its nesting birds. Once environmental clearance of the project is given, shipping and logistics will begin to prepare for a target drill date of mid-August before the weather turns at the end of September.

“DOSECC has drilled in Iceland before, and is particularly excited about being involved in the Surtsey exploration,” continued Dr. Nielson. “This is a unique environment, as it is boiling right at sea level, then falls off the boiling point curve. The microbiologists like that rare combination, as the heat potentially prevents biocontamination of the subsurface from rain or outside environments, so the existing thermal life can be studied in this unique environment. And that is just one component–there is a lot of scientific inquiry on this one drill.”

For more information about Surtsey and other DOSECC core drilling projects around the world, please visit DOSECC.com/Surtsey.

A Proposed Borehole Scientific Laboratory in Quay County, New Mexico, USA

Screenshot 2017-03-09 at 12.49.59 PM - Edited

Scientific Drilling Abstract - European Geosciences Union General Assembly


DOSECC President Dennis Nielson, Ph.D. will be presenting at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2017 on the topic of a Proposed Borehole Scientific Laboratory in Quay County, New Mexico, USA.  The presentation will take place in Session GI3.6: Geoscientific Underground Labs and Test Sites.


Dennis L. Nielson, Marc T. Eckels, Peter Mast, Mark Zellman and Robert Creed

Our team has received funding from the US Department of Energy to initiate a Deep Borehole Field Test that will develop a subsurface test site to evaluate the drilling and scientific aspects of deep borehole disposal of nuclear waste in crystalline rock.

Phase 1 of the project will focus on Public Outreach and land acquisition, whereas Phase 2 will generate a drilling and testing plan and secure regulatory approvals.  Phase 3 will complete the Drilling and Testing Plan and Phase 4 will include the drilling and testing.  Phase 5 will be devoted to borehole science and experiments with emplacement technology.

Although we are specifically considering issues associated with the disposal of waste, this project is a proof of concept, and no waste will be emplaced at our site.  

In brief, the concept envisions an 8-1/2 inch open-hole completion at a depth of 5000 m in crystalline rock.  There will be an extensive program of sample collection (including core) and analysis as well as geophysical logging and borehole testing.  Critical issues will be low permeability in the crystalline rock as well as the ability to manage borehole quality.  Our team has proposed a site in Quay County, New Mexico that has an 850 meter thick Paleozoic section overlying homogeneous Precambrian granite.  A subsequent phase of the project may drill a second hole with a 17-1/2 inch completion located about 200 m from the first.

Our long-term plan is that this site will be managed as a deep scientific observatory that also provides a facility for scientific experiments and testing of borehole infrastructure and drilling equipment.

RAID Project Updates – December 2016


The RAID Scientific Drilling Project Team continues to send updates as the project progresses.  Here are the updates for December 2016.

See October/November updates here.

Check back here for regular updates as they are added. See the original project description here.



Heavy fog today.  It is very cold and the internet just came online.  We had a troop of 8 distinguished visitors out yesterday.  Kelly Falkner, head of Polar science for the NSF, among others.  We refit an auger bit to attach to a piece of HWT.  We will RIH the HWT and slowly turn the bit forcing all cuttings to the center of the HWT.  We will then RIH NQ rod hooked up to the air package and try to air lift the remaining cuttings from the hole.


We had a brilliant idea to try and air lift the remaining fill out of the bore hole by running in with HWT casing and an auger bit welded up to funnel the cuttings inside the casing.  We then ran into the HWT casing the NQ rod and directed air through the swivel down the NQ picking up the cuttings and lifting them to the surface. We were able to use this technique for about 20 feet and then we started seeing some torque and lower penetration.  Erring on the side of caution, we started pulling back to make sure the hole was in good condition.  The hole was torquey the 20 feet that we had drilled.   Looking at the process, we think that the air was melting the bore wall a little and the re-freeze was deforming the bore hole. We worked the rods out and that was the end of the day.  John, Jeff, Blaise and Mike Jackson all arrived yesterday.   We are expecting Nature McGinn today from environmental.  We will continue to Auger today by adding NQ rod to the auger string. And doing some more pull back to the surface.


Today we tried to auger a little further by crossing over a NRQ rod to the top of an auger.  We were able to drill ahead for another 30 feet, but in the removal process, there was a large amount of cuttings we were lifting to evacuate the hole.  We stopped several times to discuss the situation and try new approaches to removing the cuttings.  In the end, when we started coming out of the hole, the cuttings were binding and refroze to the bore wall.  The augers became stuck and after an hour of working them, the pin between auger 12 and 13 of 31 augers sheared and separated the string.  So we have steel in the hole.  There are a few ways to get it out, one involves using glycol to melt the cuttings away from the steel, and thereby free up the augers.  We are looking for guidance from environmental about using this in open hole.  We will be working on unsticking these augers tomorrow in the morning.  We are in parallel looking for alternative augers that may be available in McM and or NZ or AUS. So a setback today, but we will prevail.

We had Nature McGinn, on site today from the NSF Environmental group and Greg Anderson from NSF EAR.


We are currently awaiting word from McM on additional augers and the possibility of using glycol to flood the hole and start melting the ice around the augers. Stay tuned.


We were given permission to add 5 gallons of glycol to the bore hole.  We made some preparations yesterday but were waiting for Alex Pyne to weigh in on a call at 2000 hours. So we shut down last night and cleaned up.  We were back at it this morning and were able to fish in a delivery tube for the glycol to approximately 65 fbs.  The glycol delivery in in a 1/4″ nylon tube was tapped to a piece of flat bar iron and inserted between the hole and the augers.  Five 1/16″ holes were drilled into the tube and allowed the glycol to weep out when pressured.  I have some pics and videos of the process.  We are waiting to see if the glycol will loosen up the cuttings around the auger and release it


We applied the prescribed 50/50 glycol to the hole yesterday in gallon increments every other hour, waiting an hour for the glycol to cook.  The 1/4″ nylon tubing and the steel weight started out 59′ and we were able to get it to go to 82′ by end of day.  We pulled the augers via a nylon strap that we lassoed around the top of the string and pulled in tension to see if the augers would come free while we were soaking them with the glycol solution.  We let the solution soak in overnight and this morning we were able to get the tubing to drop another 10′.  We added another gallon of 50/50 glycol and will let it cook another hour.  We have put out feelers for other available augers and have found a company in Christchurch NZ that can build “like” units and the drilling world group whom we purchased through last time has 51 units in Ca.  We are hoping that we can get these augers unstuck and resume on a new hole soon.

Still Stuck.


We had some bad weather today 37 knots, 42 mph winds.  That’s the Antarctic experience I remember from January. Needless to say it was a cold, blustery day. We emptied all of our allotted glycol today and we have not seen the augers budge with the nylon strap attached.  The nylon strap is only rated to 6400 lbs. and the rig can pull 92400 lbs. So we are really trying to take it easy.  A great idea came about today from one of our drillers Will Samuels.  It is called “Magic Pin.” In essence, we sent down an auger with a box end and a pin that is kept out of the slide path by a pull pin.  The magic pin has a bungee cord around it, so when the pull pin is pulled, Whammo! “Magic pin,” and we are hooked up to the augers again.  We started sending it down the hole this evening and had a malfunction that will require a brace welded onto the pin sleeve.  We will repair that in the morning and then we will RIH the Magic pin.

With any luck we will nipple up to the augers and have rotation capacity and pull capacity to try and free them up.


We have Magic Pinned the augers and we have worked them to the top of the hole.  They are free!  We had the magic pinned auger back to surface by 2000 hrs last night, and the boys are out pulling the remainder of the augers today. We are going to rig down today and try to move to site A-1.2 today and tomorrow.


We were moving to hole 2 on site A1, but after reviewing the downhole video, we opted to bail out the remaining cuttings and try to set the packer at the 48 mbs mark.  We need to hold pressure against the bore wall in order to keep our fluids circulating properly.  So using the 4.5″ HWT Casing on hand, we started to bail out the cuttings in the 7.25″ hole.  Slow and tedious.  We continued today to bail and we are currently RIH the packer to try and get a borehole seal.


Raid Team we bailed and reamed the hole down to 164 fbs and tried to polish the bore hole in order to get a good seal.  We ran in the hole the packer and set the packer with 170 psi compressed oxygen, the packer was set well and tight.  We introduced air into the bore hole and tried to pressure it for an hour.  No pressure would build, and we would get an instantaneous bleed off.  The best guess is we are not deep enough yet to exclude the firn. We carry on tomorrow.  We will attempt to use the bailer in order to get an ice core in the morning and we will try to get a little deeper.


We auger bailed slowly all day to get to 56mbs.  We took an ice core with the HWT bailer and got 5′ core with which we measured and weighed to find a bulk density 90 g/cm^3. It is still a little below that, however, because of the edge melt from the friction of the bailer.  Jeff S. will hone the calculation in to what it really is.


Another day has come and gone.  We tried another packer set @ 54 mbs yesterday without any pressure building.  The bore hole still seems to be taking the air supplied through the drill rod and escaping into the firn.  We will be augering and bailing more today to get to the 70mbs mark.


On the 12th we augered/bailed in order to get the hole deeper.  We are underestimated on the number of augers we needed in order to get to the ice/firn transition where we need to set the packer, so we are using this stop gap measure to chew into the firn a little deeper and then using bailing techniques to remove the cuttings.  Not as much fun as one would think, but we are making slow progress.  By the EOD 12th we were bailed to 217 fbs but bailed to 202.  The same thing occurred on the 13th, with the result as augered to 232 fbs and bailed to 220.5fbs.  We are looking to the 229 fbs (70 mbs) as what is hoped as the maximum lower boundary we would need to go.  By EOD 13th, we were at 220.5 (67.25mbs) and we wanted to run a packer test. So into the fray one more time.  The packer was set at 67.25mbs with a 200 psi internal pressure, and 100psi was applied a bleed off 50 psi happened in 3 min.  The test was redone and a 50 psi bleed was observed in 2 min 15 sec. The packer was bumped to 300psi and the same bleed off 100 to 50 psi occurred in 2 min 10 sec.  The packer was inflated to 400 psi and the bleed off occurred in 1 min 15 sec.  The final packer test was done at 500 psi and the bleed rate went to 1 min 04 sec.

So, we are seeing something positive.  At least we can build pressure.  We are getting into the transition now.  But the decrease in bleed off time for the same internal pressure, but an increasing packer set pressure leads us to believe that we are developing a bleed path through the firn around the packer.  In previous years we saw a radically slower bleed rate when the packer set pressure went up.

So, onward and deeper today! As the Japanese would say Ganbare Masho! Let’s do our best!


We had another day of augering to try and get to 70+ mbs.  It was a slower progress day than the previous 2 days as we are drilling into virgin ice and the cuttings don’t want to pack up and stay on the augers as well.  At about 1600 hrs we started to experience stickiness in the hole.  The driller on shift pulled back on the hybrid auger/NQ string and it started getting tight and the rotation was torquey and ultimately stopped.  We worked the rods for 30 min and regrouped to discuss with the client.  It was decided to RIH 30 gal of Estisol to try and lubricate the chips and unstick them.  The Estisol was pumped in through a second NQ string run to the cuttings interface and delivered the Estisol to the point.  We worked the rods again with no luck and then decided to put the rods in tension and see if we could get the steel to creep overnight.  As of this morning, the rods were still stuck. We are pulling gingerly because we know we can shear the pins on the augers and we don’t want to lose connectivity.
We have asked for the ability to use glycol again and are awaiting the answer.

Super bummer.  Sorry for the bad news.  We will probably abandon this hole and move to A1.2.


All day yesterday we were on standby waiting on orders (WOO) from NSF for the permission to use glycol on the hole to help unstick the auger flights again.  We worked the rods several times to no avail.  We received word to proceed this morning with the glycol.  With more glycol introduction into the hole, we will more than likely need to move to hole 2, as the glycol will severely damage the hole, but we will review that after the fact.

We have made a running decision that has been backed by the NSF crew not to run in augers anymore if they go below the surface.  So we may be seeing some down days WOA (waiting on augers).


We have been adding glycol to the hole very slowly at small increments of 1/2 gallon at a time.  We have a little time before our augers are here, so we are trying to see what the minimum amount of glycol we can add in order to free the augers.   With the borehole camera down hole, we can see the glycol melt the chips at the top of the augers.  We have not been successful at getting the glycol fish to run in the gap between the augers and the bore wall.  We believe this is due to the tighter tolerance between the augers and wall due to the slow rotation with which we have been cutting and bailing with in this zone.  We are pretty confident that they will come free and we will look at hole condition at that time.

On another note, we are anticipating the augers, which are in the USAP cargo system in Christchurch.  The intended air cargo date to McM was Dec. 21 with anticipated delivery to RAID site on Dec. 23.  There have been a few recent delayed flights from Christchurch to McM and with USAP rules, such that passengers get priority over cargo, it might be that we don’t see the augers until after Christmas.  We have applied for and received an extension to the field season that will allow us operation time, helo time and camp staff until Jan 7th. So this could be a major help to meeting our goals.  I want to thank all of the camp staff, traverse staff, in town managers, USAP shipping and logistics people, on station NSF reps, Science reps, Environmental reps, and all those back in Denver and Washington for keeping this a positive experience and even though were in the face of challenge being supportive and helpful to see RAID succeed.

Thanks for being part of the team.


We have had heavy storms the last 2 days and winds in the 22 knots/25 mph, with drifts upwards of 2’ and 6-8” of snow.   We worked the rods 3 times again yesterday and added more glycol in ½ gallon increments.  There was some slight movement in the rods as of last night.  We are still pulling lightly in order to ensure we do not separate the string.  Once the augers are free and out, we will assess the hole for another packer test.


We were able to get about 10” of movement in the rods last night.  We let the glycol cook again over night and this morning we pulled and rotated and finally worked the rods free.  We got everything out of the hole with the exception of one of the cutter bits.  So the augers are out of the hole at this point. We are looking at the borehole integrity, and determining whether or not this is a viable hole still.


Yesterday we got the augers out of the hole and all recovered.  We have demobilized off of site A-1.1 and have moved to site A-1.2 We will be set up early this afternoon.  If the helicopters make it out today we will have the new augers to get us to the desired depth of 70-79 mbs.  The augers were on the c-130 flight yesterday and are in McM now.  We should be ready for the augers when they arrive.

We will auger this next hole directly to the bottom and withdraw the augers as quickly as possible.  Any cuttings remaining will be bailed by the HWT and or 6-5/8” wireline bailer.  The target is to set the packer at 75mbs. 

After verification of the packer seal, we will RIH with the ice coring suite and try to obtain 2 ice core runs.  After that we will RIH the NCA assemblies and rotary drill to the ice/bedrock transition.  We will then RIH the ALN rock coring suite and after obtaining two 3m cores we will unload the hole of Estisol, and move to site A-1.3. 


We have successfully moved over to the new drill pad @ A-1.2.  It was a 10 hour process, with a few things we can improve on.  Keeping the generators warm so they are ready to start on demand would save an hour.  So as far as our check off list is concerned we were rigged down in about 6 hrs, but it still was not 100%  some items were shuffled to the pad without complete tear down.  So we will say 8 hrs to rig down and 10 hrs to rig up.

We received the 20 extra augers today at about 1500 hrs and the X-overs were fabricated and welded up.   We will start augering in the morning. With the goal to have the packer test by EOD.


We successfully augered to 258.75 fbs, with little to no torque issues on the way out.  Just like it should be.  Good job Drill crew. We also had a success as we pulled out of hole we had much more cuttings on the augers on the way out, which lead to a 10% fill ratio in the hole.  That is the best we have seen as yet.  We also bailed the hole 6 more feet using the wireline 6-5/8″ bailer.  We were successful 1 in 5 times with the bailer and then we sent the camera back down to look, and found a plaque of cuttings around the borehole wall where the bailer had removed the cuttings, making a friction stop for the bailer not allowing it to get deeper.  We were not able to get a packer test in today.  We are doing that this morning. 


We have tried a packer to seal at 228-232 fbs without success.  We bailed the hole to 249fbs and that is where we stopped yesterday.   We will continue to bail to the 258fbs mark and then we will adapt a Kovacs core tool to the end of the HWT and try get a core we can get a density from.  We will then proceed to run a packer test.


We have bailed the hole to 255fbs (77 mbs) and we have 3’ of fill left in the hole.  We are trying to bail that this morning using our rocket reamer (see attached) and basically stuffing the cuttings into the end of the HWT casing that the reamer is made of.  The rocket reamer (RR) was made onsite here and the volume of the hole relative to the volume of the RR is 3:1 so you can see why it takes many trips in and out of the hole in order to “Bail” cuttings.  We have currently drilled the hole with the reamer to 260 fbs and are ready to take a Kovacs auger core and set the packer again to see if we get a seal.


Some disappointing news today.  We were not able to get the packer to seal and we believe we have not yet passed the ice/firn transition. 

We set a packer 252-256fbs (76.8-78.0mbs) at the maximum hole depth we could make and then bail with augers of 259 fbs (78.9m).  On top of that the Kovacs auger twisted off at the glue bonding joint between the top of the barrel and the stainless adapter. 

We are at this point running in the second packer to exclude any issues with the packer from the bleed rate.

If this packer test resembles the others of yesterday, we will probably be looking to move over and start another auger hole just to replicate and verify we can get at least 10% fill or less.


Merry Christmas!

We started the day RIH our back up packer to try and see if we could exclude the last item in the casing set as a potential faulty part that may be leaking.  The backup packer went in the hole and we inflated it to 400 psi. Then we dumped air into the space below the packer to 100 psi and we got the same results as on the 24th with the primary packer.  So we decided that we would try and frac the hole with a higher insert pressure. So we dumped the more air into the borehole. 500 psi gage reading at the surface, but probably a little less at the bottom.  The air just ran away with no noticeable change in bleed rate. So frac test is inconclusive.  We spent the rest of the day cleaning organizing and some light inventory. We are currently in standby waiting on orders (WOO).  


We have been in a single continuing storm since 12/22 that has progressively gotten worse and worse over the last 5 days.   All of the equipment is functioning well including the drill tent.  Yesterday while waiting for a helicopter run that still hasn’t happened we decided to start inventorying the items we would need to replenish and start the winterization of the FRS container as it will be unusable this year without a casing set deep enough to circulate the hole.  So we have removed all sensitive electronics components except from the air compressor and the HMI/PLC.  We disassembled the reefer duct work and bulkhead into the FRS. 

Yesterday afternoon after discussion with john and Jeff our new priority is to fish the kovacs auger from the hole A-1.2, then weather permitting move about 10’ and re-auger the top section for experience and to verify we can do it leaving 10% fill. If there is time we may do that another time.  If not we are preparing to winterize, pack up and be ready to fly to McM on Wednesday the 3rd. Will and I will stay here and finish winterization as needed and we will fly back to McM at the first available transport.

12-27 and 12-28, 2016

We were notified yesterday that we need to wrap up here at Minna Bluff and bring “Big Red” in for the winter.  A little disappointing since we were not able to accomplish most of the goals we had set out to do.  But c’est la vie.  We have been working yesterday and today to winterize everything that we can inside of the modules.  We are still in a midsummer night’s squall out here with high winds and driving snow.  Some of the drifts are getting ridiculously tall here and are almost black diamond worthy.  We are looking for a small window in which to drop the tent and jack down the ROD and DRILL modules.  

So far we have accomplished winterization of 50% of the ROD, 10% of the DRILL, 50% of the POWER, 99% of the FRS, and 50% shop.  We need to put all of the DNF items into their respective crates for shipment home on the vessel this year, and get an inventory of those items.  

We will continue with De-mob and Rig down through the week end with scheduled helicopter transport next week.


The weather finally broke yesterday morning early so we went to work at 0400 to capitalize on the calmness.  We were able to get the tent down and stowed.  The drill and rod units have been broken down and the ROD winter cover is about 90% finished.  We should finish the winterization by tomorrow night.  Our current intended departure from Minna Bluff is on Monday.

12-30 and 12-31, 2016

As of 1700 hrs last night we are officially rigged down and completely winterized.  The ROD module was towed off this morning to the 2nd crevasse, with the remainder of the unused fuel (12000 gal).  We are scheduled for evac tomorrow morning at 1100 hrs.  We will be in McM handling all the northbound shipments @ Sci cargo for the DNF. The northbound flights for the crews are pending.


01-01 and 01-02, 2017

We are still in de-mob and Northbound movement.  We were able to EVAC Minna Bluff yesterday and get back to porcelain and 5+ gallon showers.

We are returning USAP equipment as we can and prepping to fly north.


We are set to bag drag tonight for 0700 am flight northbound tomorrow.  Inclement weather is on the horizon and may hamper the plan, but as of now we should be Northbound tomorrow.


Just marking time.  The weather turned bad yesterday and the C-130’s scheduled to fly were grounded.  So we are now set to fly on the 6th.


Waiting on Northbound Flights. Looks like Saturday The 7th.


We went to get on the plane this morning @11:30 and were informed that we as a group were not leaving today, so we are here until Monday, when the next flight is scheduled.


Standby.  Looking to fly tomorrow.


Travel home!

RAID Project Updates – October/November

The RAID Scientific Drilling Project Team continues to send updates as the project progresses.  Here are the updates for late October and November 2016.
See December updates here.

Check back here for regular updates as they are added. See the original project description here. 



Chris Delahunty, Rich Szentmiklosi, Mike Vinson, and AJ Vecchiarelli all depart for Christchurch, New Zealand.




Raid team was delayed yesterday from departing CHCH to MCM by airplane and weather issues. We received a call this morning about persistent weather issues and have been delayed another 24 hrs. We are currently in standby.



We are loaded onto a C-17 and on our way to MCM.  Two days late but moving now. Mike Vinson is excited.


We are successfully into McM today.  We had a very nice ride on the C-17 (much better than the C-130s).  We are headed to training today.  I will get the drill logs out of the container today and start the drill logs.




We have successfully completed the science brief, vehicle training, fire, waste, medical and Pisten Bulley training.  Still another training day today.


Finished with almost all training.  We have vehicle walk around Monday and small snow machines Tuesday.  We have been into the containers today and are working a game plane on lifting the containers to the skis.  We will be working with the USAP crew on Saturday and Monday to get the skis assembled and then we will use the big forklift to set the FRS, POWER, and SHOP containers on skis as Tuesday/Wednesday, then move onto the drill and rod rack Thursday/ Friday.raid-scientific-drilling-img_20161029_142211


Today we finally got some traction here.  With the help of the heavy machine ops group we were able to move all the DES cargo to the workpad near the dock and all of the skis and miscellaneous parts for the skis.  While disassembling the ski packs and flipping them over, we had a problem where one of the plastic sheets on the bottom of the ski was fork lift torn and we needed to replace the sheet.  That was an unexpected issue.  The ski units were not previously assembled, so we started that this afternoon.  We have one full set of skis completed with another set left to do tomorrow morning.  The crane that we need to lift the containers is being repaired and so we will use a forklift to do the picks of the FRS, POWER, and SHOP onto their respective skis tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning.   We will be stripping off the winter covers from the drill and rod rack tomorrow as well. I forgot to take a picture today so I will get one for tomorrow.  Looking at our schedule we are behind in that we were delayed 2 days in CHCH, we did our training on Friday and Saturday, then we were ready to work yesterday and McM was pretty much on Sunday shutdown.  With us doing the ski assemblies we will need Tuesday morning to finish the Shop and Power skis and then Wednesday all day to do the Drill and Rod skis.



Today we were able to set the FRS on skis and move the shop and power containers to the staging area.  We set up 1 ski for the rod rack.  And we are waiting for a crane to reclaim 2 skis from the wissard equipment. Tomorrow we will break into the Rod and drill racks to remove the on board storage.  I have attached some pics from the days’ ops.




We were able to get the last 2 needed skis from the wissard equipment today.  The crane lifted off a container on them.  This is great news that we now have a working crane.  We lifted the ROD skid and took off its winter cover.  Very minimal snow drifting past the cover and none on the rod skid deck.  We off loaded all packed items on the rod skid.   We can now finish the outfit of the POWER and FRS containers.  We also completed all assembly of the drill and rod skis today.  Looking forward to all containers on skis by Friday.





So for today and yesterday, we have the Power container up on skis, the FRS has been taken to Willey field. We finished the drill and rod ski sets. The drill is un-tarped. The drill and rod are ready to lift and put on their skis.  The shop is ready to put on its skis.  So tomorrow will be a big day to get all equipment on skis.

We have had to do quite a bit of fabrication over the last 2 days to get the old ISO 2 ski sets retrofitted to make up to the new ISO 3 walking beam skis.



We have made much progress over the last 2 days.  All containers are on their respective skis. The jack legs are all assembled on the drill and rod skids.  The Power container is externally completed with the damper housing, exhaust lines, cable bridge, safety fall restraint, and ladders.  It is looking very sharp.  The Shop container is complete with cable bridge.  The drill rod was loaded down to sausage point. And we installed three of the J brackets to the skis and drill today. We will probably move the power and shop skid to Willey field tomorrow and possibly the rod skid. When the components are to Willey field we will then start the interior assembly getting all the DNF items placed.








Another good day.  We were able to drill and place all the J clips into the ISO 3 Ski benches for the drill and rod skids.  We assembled the catwalks to about 50%.  We were scrambling to get all the loose items loaded into the rod skid because we thought that we would be moving the drill and rod skids to Willey field tomorrow.  Because of lack of snow the fleet ops group has been stockpiling snow along the road from sausage point to the town side transition to the ice.  They aren’t quite as far as they would like to be so it looks as though the move day for the drill and rod will be Wednesday. We did move the Power and shop out today from the wharf.  I have put video and pics of today’s endeavors on the google drive. Tomorrow and Wednesday we will be working on the interior of the skids to start placing all the DNF items.





We completed as much of the Drill and Rod racks as we could before towing out to Willey field.  In order to get to the sea ice, the fleet ops needed to get about a ¼ of a mile worth of road paved with snow.  This area is normally always snow packed, but as with everything RAID it seems we hit a low snow year with higher than average temperatures.  This has been nice for the assembly of the units, but now we see a minor downside.  The snow was trucked in from point McM where some drifts have occurred, and is ready for the bulldozers to flatten and pack it.  We have loaded all RAID DNF boxes and equipment to be hauled out Willey field and as soon as the drill and rod racks can be towed out we will resume set up at that point.  We are currently waiting on delivery and containers to resume.



We have successfully moved all modules out of McM to the SpoTsa site.  It was a blustery cold day here and it took a lot of help from the fleet ops group to get the snow road together as well as the tremendous help with forklifts, cranes and man labor.  If you have time check out the videos especially the one labeled GOPR Tractor pull.raid-scientific-drilling-img_20161109_074122


Today we were able to get the Power Module completely finished with respects to rigging up out of long term storage.  We are making good progress every day.  Our goal is to have the FRS done tomorrow.  The USAP Electricians we onsite today running electrical in the power module for the galley and tractor plugin stations. Things are definitely moving ahead.


Today we started out with the hopes of refitting the FRS module with all of its DNF items, but we got word from the traverse group that they wanted to move the containers so that they were in operational position.  We changed gears and started laying out the rig mats. Then, after lunch, the tractors started pulling containers into location.  By 16:30 we had the modules in their relative locations. Then, with the time remaining, we worked on the Drill module DNF items and are about 50% complete.


We are 50% complete with DNF in the FRS and the cable bridges are in place.  We need to move the drill closer to the Power module in the future in order to get that cable bridge to work better.  For now the lines are on the ground.


We have finished all the work we can do prior to having our generators started and functioning.  We are about 92% overall complete, with the remaining 8% in FRS Glycol load into the boiler, generator startup, Power check at all levels of each container.  And final leveling, joining and raising of the drill mast and tent. Rich and Chris will be in an all-day crevasse training for those going on the traverse.  We hope the technician will be available Thursday day to finalize the generators.  We are set to traverse next Wednesday.


We have one generator running as of 1700 hrs today! We did a power check on the power module and the shop module.  They are 100% checked off.  We are working to tweak the damper controls, and were able to get them to work pretty well today holding the interior temperature around 60 – 70 F.  We finished the junk baskets on the Shop Container.  Rich and Chris were in crevasse training from 0800 to 1700 today.  Climbing a rope and descending the rope is easily accomplished by Rich, he has some funny video of Chris taking a half hour to do what he can do in 10 minutes.  The outside of the modules were wiped down to get rid of the McMurdo crud caked on them.  The drill doors/rod doors latches are complete. The drill shipping floor removed. Tomorrow we are going to try to marry the rod and drill modules and maybe have the tent up.


We have generator B running today and complete control over the Power Module.  Generator A ran all day and kept good pace with us.  We had all of the modules powered up and running lighting plugs and heaters today and with the drill running while we were marrying the drill and rod modules, there was only a 20% load on the system.  We are ready to step the mast and auger a hole.


The tent is up! We have our first picture with the entire operation assembled. We had distinguished visitors out today in Scott Borg, Thomas Wilch, and Nature McGinn.  The day started of snowy with light winds.  We were debating on whether to roll back the roofs and set up the tent as we had gotten word that Jessie Crane had left the continent, when Matt Kippenhan said he had a bunch of people that wanted to see it.  So we put up the tent in 2 hours and the wind was blowing, and snow everywhere.   But we did it. We are in the 99th percentile complete.  Just a few more things to check off.  We will drill an auger hole tomorrow at 1300.


We were able to auger a hole today to the depth of 30′ below the surface (fbs).  After the augers were pulled we measures 22′ of open hole.  That is 78% cleared.  Better than the 50% experienced in January, but we still need to refine the removal process.  We continued today to do odd jobs, making the layout better, checking things off of our lists.  We will be traversing on Wednesday the 23rd, and in order to do that we will need to be completely stowed by the 21 EOD as the traverse crew wants to be off on Tuesday to get personal things done. So we will be stowing things tomorrow in prep for traverse.


We successfully broke down the entire drill platform system in about 11 hours to the point we were ready to traverse. This occurred over Sunday and Monday 20-21.  We can expect some efficiency to come from doing this a few more times, but we were able to complete the task in fairly inclement weather over the last 2 days.  We are currently staged at SPoTSa ready for a demob of Wednesday the 23rd.  Standby, WOT: Waiting on Traverse.


We are personally prepping for the mobilization tomorrow.  Currently on Standby: Waiting on Traverse.


We are leaving today around 1100 hrs.  The traverse train will be 5 tractors.  I will take pictures as I can.  I will send daily updates as I can, but you might not hear from us for several days.




We have arrived!  We made it to the MB-A1 site @ 1100 hrs today and started Track Packing the pad.  I have attached the logs from the last 3 days and a photo.


We were able to track pack the site yesterday and let it sinter overnight.   We are ready to start moving equipment onto the pad now.


We have successfully moved the Drill, Rod, Power, FRS and Shop Modules onto the drill pad at Hole A1.1.  The Traverse team moved their modules out and set their camp up. The Camp Manager and her team will fly in tomorrow and the remainder of the camp will be prepped.  We anticipate John, Jeff, Blaise and the other drill team will be on site around Dec. 1.


I had my hopes set on having the tent up today but we had to do some repairs on a few seams that were unraveling. Those are accomplished now and tomorrow looks good.


The tent is up and we have checked the FRS boiler.  We are ready to do some augering today!  In attached picture, note the white speck above the drill.  That is a LDB balloon.


We were able to auger a hole to 154.75 fbs yesterday.   We ran the video bore scope and found fill at the 124 fbs mark that is roughly 20% still left in the hole, that is too much.   So we are working a plan to evacuate the remaining chips out.

See December 2016 updates here.


New Geotechnnical Drilling Applications for Water-Saturated Soils

idras geotechnical core drilling services

Custom Engineered Scientific Drilling Tools for IDRAS Offer New Geotechnical Drilling Applications

idras geotechnical core drilling servicesWhen developing the custom core drilling equipment for the scientific drilling IDRAS project that enables quality core drilling services in water-saturated soils while leaving the water in situ, it was clear the new technology would also offer benefits in geotechnical drilling applications.  When designing, engineering and fabricating custom equipment, DOSECC engineers always seek to extend the extend its capability beyond the immediate apparent demands of the project to expand study capabilities across other disciples as well.

For example, when designing custom equipment to drill at any remote location, our team does not always have data to verify exactly how hard a rock is anticipated to meet the needs of the research,  so we fabricate the equipment to be able to drill through harder materials and collect core from more consolidated clays than anticipated.    In the case of IDRAS, it will likely be primarily sands or organic sediments, and may not require penetration of anything harder than clay material, yet the DOSECC team must factor in the uncertainty.  In addition, there are other geotechnical drilling applications for this tool that may require the equipment be prepared for harder soils.  As a result, the team has prepared the equipment for much harder soils and rock as part of the IDRAS project.

Accurately Measuring Soil Bearing Capacity with Geotechnical Drilling

When geotechnical engineers are tasked with determining the property of the soils which will support a new structure, the tool originally developed for IDRAS now may allow those researchers to better evaluate the saturation level of the sands they encounter.   With sand material, the soil bearing capacity fluctuates widely depending on the water saturation.  The sand alone may have a bearing capacity that is compromised by 2 or 3 times due to the water saturation.

Currently, geotechnical engineers use what call an SPT or CPT technology and then are left with making inferences as to how water affects the soil bearing-conditions. The geotechnical drilling tool DOSECC has  custom-developed for the IDRAS project may give them more of a direct approach to more readily make accurate assessments.

For more information on geotechnical drilling capabilities, including custom design, engineering, and fabrication of new drilling technologies, please contact us.


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IDRAS – International Drilling for the Recovery of Aquifer Sands

idras scientific drilling map

IDRAS Scientific Drilling Project Overview

The International Drilling for the Recovery of Aquifer Sands, or “IDRAS” Project, is a current DOSECC scientific drilling project that requires DOSECC’s unique capabilities of custom engineering and fabrication of a unique drilling tool.  The DOSECC team was tasked with providing geoscience researchers the ability to drill core samples in soft sediments that are saturated with water, with the water left in situ and undisturbed in the sample.  The ultimate goal of this tool is to allow researchers on the IDRAS project to better analyze high arsenic groundwater in Southeast Asia, including India, Vietnam, and Bangledesh, that poses a significant health risks.

idras scientific drilling map


Project Update: As of October, 2016, the custom-fabricated drilling equipment has been successfully tested at DOSECC headquarters and will next undergo a second test drill an area of the Great Salt Lake that offers similar soil saturation conditions as those to be tested in Southeast Asia. This proofing test will provide validation that the system will meet the goals on the ground in Asia. Earlier tests allowed the design team to make adjustments to the original tool design to optimize the performance of the tool and change some features before this next round of testing.

Project Details

Elevated groundwater arsenic (As) concentrations impact the health of over 100 million villagers across Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China who rely on tube wells as their main source of drinking water. This ICDP project, likely to be the first of several devoted to groundwater quality over the next decade, seeks to identify the limited set of parameters that need to be considered in order to make meaningful predictions about the vulnerability of a low-As aquifer in the absence of a full-scale study. This is a crucial question from a public health perspective because selectively tapping low-As aquifers is the most effective way of lowering As exposure.

idras geotechnical core drilling servicesAs a first step towards this goal, proponents from 16 different countries will drill an unconsolidated aquifer in the US that is elevated in As. A new tool under development, the freeze-shoe sampler, will be deployed to recover groundwater in contact with aquifer sands from the same depth by sealing the bottom of a coring tube by in situ freezing. Participants, including 9 from affected Asia countries whose travel to the drill site is supported by the project, will process cores collected at three sites with the freeze-shoe sampler on-site in a mobile geomicrobiology laboratory where a suite of labile sediment and groundwater properties will be measured. In addition to setting the stage for future deployments of the freezeshoe sampler in Asia, the new data will shed light on the release of As to groundwater caused by the reductive dissolution of iron (Fe) oxyhydroxides, a process that is mediated by micro-organisms involved in the mineralization of reactive organic carbon.

The freeze-shoe sampler has been developed under separate funding from the U. S. National Science Foundation.  DES has performed this work under a subcontract from Columbia University.  Freeze-shoe technology is being adapted for use on DES’s suite of soft sediment sampling tools that have been used for many years to collect long cores in modern lakes.  This project is the first field test of these new tools.

A Multi-Disciplinary Project

The DOSECC project is led by Lead Project Engineer and Project Manager Brian Grzybowski. He reports:

“I’ve enjoyed working on the project because it spans a pretty broad range of engineering disciplines.  With the freeze properties, it involves the heat transfer and thermodynamics of freezing the core.  It involves electrical control systems, integration, and thermal science and HVCF applications.  Plus, the system has all equipment on board, so when we send it down-hole it is an independent assembly that functions remotely down there, so it must be designed as a stand-alone system.  We have the added challenge of requiring that it be able to survive the downhole conditions of low temperature and high pressure.  When we send the tool downhole on the wire line, and it acts as a hypodermic needle, so it collects a core sample below what the bit has disturbed.  This allows us to collect a 5’ long core sample undisturbed by the drilling process. We freeze 6” at the tip contained inside of a plastic, polycarbonate liner, then we pull it off the drill coring system and transfer it to the researchers at that point.  They then can employ a system that can freeze the top of the core and allow it to be put it into refrigeration storage vertically to avoid the water changing orientation.”

A number of key DOSECC staff members have collaborated on this effort to bring a wide array of expertise and backgrounds to bear in order to solve a unique geoscientific problem for the first time.  From field and drilling experience and engineering design to fabrication capability and geotechnical experience, our wide range of staff members and associates enables DOSECC to bring a great deal of experience to bear for the development of the product.


Learn more about the geotechnical drilling applications of the custom equipment designed for IDRAS.

Read more about this scientific drilling project at ICDP.

Related Publication: International Drilling to Recover Aquifer Sands (IDRAs) and Arsenic Contaminated Groundwater in Asia by Alexander van Geen, 12/6/2011


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Surtsey Volcano, Iceland

Surtsey Volcano

Dr. Marie Jackson, University of Utah

Surtsey Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site located off the south coast of Iceland.  This protected island is recognized worldwide as a natural laboratory for investigating processes of rift zone volcanism, hydrothermal alteration and biological colonization of basaltic tephra, and development of industrial resources using palagonitic tuff as a prototype for sustainable, high performance concretes.

An 181m hole was drilled in 1979 (Jakobsson & Moore 1986) and provided a petrological, mineralogical, and thermal framework to understand early eruptive and hydrothermal processes in tephra and feeder dikes and the structure of the volcano above and below sea level. Subsurface microbiota have now been observed in fluids extracted below the 120 °C thermal barrier of microbial life.

In 2016, DOSECC was retained as part of the SUSTAIN drilling program (Surtsey Underwater volcanic System for Thermophiles, Alteration processes and INnovative concretes) to core  two  holes while protecting the sensitive wildlife and vegetative habitats of the Surtsey Natural Reserve. A clean, 200-meter-deep vertical hole with anodized aluminum casing will be  used to explore pore water chemistry, microbiota-water- rock interactions, and seawater compositional modifications over time.

After drilling is complete, a Surtsey Subsurface Observatory will be installed in this hole for long term monitoring and in situ experiments. A 300-meter- long angle hole with steel casing inclined west toward the eastern volcanic vent axis will intersect dike intrusions, provide additional information on deep stratigraphy and structure, and investigate higher temperature zones of the hydrothermal system.

The SUSTAIN drilling program will be the first to sample microbial colonization of tephra, together with its pore water, through a neo-volcanic island from the surface to the seafloor with all precautions taken to avoid contamination from the surroundings. The subseafloor pressure at the Surtsey Microbial Observatory at 0.2 km depth will be lower than that typical of the neovolcanic zone of mid-ocean ridges at ~2.5 km depth. More phase separation (boiling) can therefore occur in this shallow environment at temperatures relevant to microbial metabolism.

Because many of the energy-rich substances capable of supporting autotrophic life (e.g. H 2 , H 2 S, CH 4 ) partition into the vapor phase, there may be higher redox gradients and more spatial diversity in microhabitats in this environment compared to those on the ridge crest. Studies of microbial colonization of the altered subterrestrial tephra and hydrothermal fluids could provide new insights into archaeal lineages in the very young biosphere and, possibly, contribute to understanding the nature of the archaeal ancestor of eukaryotic organisms.

The Surtsey hydrothermal system is one of the few localities worldwide that is actively producing a rare authigenic Al-tobermorite and zeolite assemblage (Jakobsson and Moore, 1986). Tobermorite, Ca 5 Si 6 O 16 (OH) 2 ·4H 2 O, with 11 Å c-axis interlayer spacing, is formed by the action of hydrous fluids on basic igneous rocks. It also occurs among the alteration products at the cement–rock interface of toxic and nuclear waste repositories. It is a candidate sorbent for nuclear and hazardous waste encapsulation owing to its ion-exchange behavior which arises from the facile replacement of labile interlayer cations.

Al-tobermorite and phillipsite also occur as the principal cementitious mineral phases in the volcanic ash-lime mortar of 2000-year-old Roman concrete harbor structures. Little is known about how hydrothermal chemistry and phase-stability relationships in Al-tobermorite and zeolite mineral assemblages evolve as a function of time, temperature, fluid interactions, and microbial activity. The new cores will therefore provide a real-time geologic analog for understanding the evolving microstructures and macroscopic physical properties of tuff and sustainable concrete prototypes with pozzolanic pyroclastic rocks under the variable hydrothermal conditions of the engineered barriers of waste repositories.

Deepening of the inclined hole may resolve the disparity in the two models regarding the width of the subseafloor diatreme structure underneath Surtsey, and possibly intersect the outer wall of the diatreme if it is sufficiently narrow. Analyses of core from the inclined hole should also provide information about how the onset of fragmentation, submarine transport of tephra, and deposition in the submarine environment differs from what is represented in subaerial deposits.

The extent to which Surtsey’s activity was predominantly phreatomagmatic, versus the degree to which it involved substantial volatile-driven magmatic explosivity has important implications for predicting potential hazards to air traffic from future Surtseyan-type eruptions. These processes can be clarified with rigorous analysis of deposits combined with experiments using remelted material from the island.

The unique and distinguishing feature of the drilling program is to apply volcanological, geochemical, mineralogical, microbiological and geoarchaeological perspectives to create a new diagenetic and biogenetic paradigm for pyroclastic rock concretes with cation-exchange properties and long term societal benefits for human and earth ecology.  Drilling is expected to take place in the summer of 2017.

Related Publications

Jakobsson, S., and Moore, J. G. (1986) Hydrothermal minerals and alteration rates at Surtsey volcano, Iceland. GSA Bulletin, 97, 648–659.

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