Sediment drilling and coring

Weddell Sea

Lat. 0°0'0"N, Long. 0°0'0"E

RRS Sir David Attenborough

A new polar research ship for Britain

Undisturbed sea-floor sediments can reveal the past history of the Antarctic continent.  Sampled from the ocean floor or from beneath ice shelves, these sediments can be taken back to the lab for analysis to aid investigations into ice-shelf thinning and retreat, sedimentary processes and oceanic circulation.

Research teams recover sediment cores from beneath ice shelves using hot-water drilling technology and the BAS percussion corer which is driven via a manually operated hammer mounted on a hammer rod with a striking plate.

In deeper subglacial locations (> 1 km of tether) the corer can be modified so that the weights are hoisted, then released automatically by a triggered release mechanism. A short gravity corer is used to collect undisturbed surface samples.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough will also be able to deploy the RD2 rock drill, which can operate at depths of up to 3,000m. It can collect cores of 62mm diameter up to 15m below the seafloor in 1.5m sections.

Filchner Ice Shelf System, Antarctica

Understanding the contribution that polar ice sheets make to global sea-level rise is recognised internationally as urgent.  The mission of this five-year project is to capture new observations and data …