11. May 2008

Successful spring 2008 TSP drilling campaign in Svalbard !

Contact persons for additional information: Hanne H. Christiansen and Håvard Juliussen

Text and photos by Håvard Juliussen, Hanne H. Christiansen and Ole Humlum 


Airlift of drilling equipment to Larsbreen March 13, 2008, shortly outside Longyearbyen. Click here to read more about this part of the permafrost drilling campaign. Photo: Håvard Juliussen.


This spring we have drilled 11 new boreholes, with a total length of 166 m here in central Svalbard . The depth of the holes ranges from 5m to almost 40 m. Boreholes were made in both sediments and bedrock. The holes are located in different landforms with different meteorological conditions, from the strandflat at Kapp Linne (click here for photo) on the west coast of Spitsbergen to a pingo near Jansonhaugen, Adventdalen, in the central eastern part of Spitsbergen.

The campaign involved logistic challenges in terms of transport and preparation of drilling sites. The drill rig and compressor have been transported by helicopter (see photo above), and on a sledge after a ski-track grooming machine (click here for photo) and the UNIS tracked vehicle (click here for photo). At one of the drilling sites, three meters of snow had to be removed before drilling. A 45 ton bulldozer did the job in only a few minutes (see photo below).


Caterpillar removing snow at one of the drilling sites in Adventdalen, central Spitsbergen, April 29, 2008. This site was coosen for permafrost drilling to enable analysis of the effect of a thick snow cover on permafrost temperatures. In addition, continous 1hr ground surface temperature measurements are at hand from this site since 1999. Three metres of snow has to be removed before drilling could commence. Photo: Håvard Juliussen.


Typically one hole was drilled in one day using hammer drilling with the Sintef/UNIS owned drill rigg named Majgøril. The drilling was performed by Jomar Finseth, Sintef. Logistic support was given by Jørgen Haagensli, UNIS. Several TSP scientists have been involved in the planning and the drillings. TSP post.doc. Håvard Juliussen, have been participating in most of the drillings.

The holes are cased with closed plastic tubes and are currently being instrumented with thermistor strings so that we can measure the temperature of the permafrost continuously. These installations are an important part of the permafrost observatory that the TSP Norway project is establishing here in Nordenskiölds land in Svalbard . Some of the holes are PYRN-TSP holes, part of a Nordic Permafrost Young Reseachers Network (PYRN) project on shallow drillings in sediments. This work is coordinated by Håvard Juliussen in Svalbard .

Drilling rig on heavy sledge at Isfjord Radio, Kapp Linne, westernmost Spitsbergen, April 21, 2008. Photo: Håvard Juliussen.

Drilling rig on sledge pulled by one of UNIS tracked wehicles, April 28, 2008. Location: Waterfall Pingo, uppermost Adventdal, central Spitsbergen. Photo: Hanne H. Christiansen.

Drilling on the strandflat south of Isfjord Radio (seen in background) April 22, 2008, near the west coast of Spitsbergen. Photo: Håvard Juliussen.

Installing casing in borehole on Waterfall Pingo in uppermost Adventdalen, April 28, 2008. The casing prevents the borehole from collapsing after removal of the drill. Photo: Hanne H. Christiansen.

Drilling operation in progress on Waterfall pingo in uppermost Adventdalen, April 28, 2008. The drilling rig is seen to the left of the pingo crater, from where escaping water forms a frozen waterfall during the winter. The pingo is about 25 m high. Photo: Ole Humlum.