2001-02 Photos--SPRESSO drill site

a boring job

Above, the drill site in December 2001.

SPRESSO (or sometimes referred to as SPRESO) is the South Pole Remote Earth Science and Seismological Observatory. It evolved from planning begun in 1994 to relocate and upgrade the seismic monitoring system--the southernmost station in the Global Seismographic Network (GSN) as a part of what would eventually be the new station. Previously the USGS station had been at Old Pole, then at a small vault behind the domed station, and in the early 90s moved to vault V1, which had been originally constructed in 1989-90. Now...with more sensitive instruments and more "noise" from station operations, the plan was to get it to a quieter place. NSF, USGS, and IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) did a survey by setting up test instruments every mile for a distance of 25 miles from the station. They found that at mile 10 the instruments stopped picking up station activity...but that was too far to run power from the station. So a compromise was reached--to go out 5 miles and bury the instruments between 800 and 1000 feet deep. The drilling was done by Ice Core Drilling Services (ICDS) at the University of Wisconsin.

no longer one of Bill Spindler's morning running routes

Above, a map showing the location of the SPRESSO installation, which is not that far away from the former Pomerantz Land. The map appears in this USGS/IRIS data sheet on the project.

The new instruments are the same type buried in rock all over the world, but they are made to run at room temperatures, so the original 6" diameter instruments are wrapped with heat tape in a 10" insulated casing. They were tested for a year at the V1 vault near the station before the drilling project began.

just testing

Here's one of the prototype instruments being installed near the old vault in December 1999 (notice the ARO met tower in the background).
dig here
The result is this "X" marking the drilling spot. This photo was actually taken during site surveys a year after the previous photo...on 9 November 2000 (KA).
where are we
First...surveyors Kurt Skoog and Jack Giacalone go figure out the exact location.
the "before" picture
Ross Thorsen at the site before the camp is set up (JC).
making the grade
First the road needs to be smoothed out a bit, here's Sandy Sandison doing that.
packing in
Next, here goes a load of drill camp equipment.
fly me
core meaning
Above, a couple of views of the camp site. In the left photo you can see one of the captive artifical local aerial enhancements...the right picture shows some of the embellishing sculptures made from ice cores. Some of the ice cores were also melted down for drinking water or used for bar ice (KR).
please take a seat

A closeup of the most important building in camp (KR).
putting it down
Here's a view of the drill site itself.
a little hole
First cut of the drilling operation. In this photo taken 9 December, from left are ICDS folks Mark Albershardt, Bella Bergeron, and Terry Gacke. The first operation was a with a 6" coring drill rig, which would be reamed out in 2 stages to 9" and then 11.25" for the seismic instruments.
sticking it into the hole

This is a good look at the drill. Denise Braun is working the drill controls as Bella Bergeron guides it down. The 6" drill removes a 4" core (KH).
this can cut itHere goes the 6" drill with the 4" core barrel plainly visible. The rig can remove about a meter of core at a time, so it needed to be pulled up to the surface after every 1m of drilling, taken apart to remove the core, and then put back together and sent back down. This happened 300-400 times for each of the 4 holes.
this can cut it
A closeup view of the core drill cutting head.
getting to the core
A look down a 6" hole at one of the 4"cores.
barreling down
Here's Kent Anderson and Bella Bergeron with one of the cores (TG).
just a bit
Bella Bergeron guides the drill out of one of the three holes (KH).
dig deep
Cleaning ice out of the drill, while reaming the hole so the seismic instruments will fit. Bella Bergeron, far left, pushes the shaft through the center of the drill and Terry Gacke helps from the other end as Denise Braun and Matthew Pender watch (KH).
the sun shines bright

At left, a sundog shines over the drill rig. The initial drilling operation went well the first year, but the reaming operation did not. Two 6" holes were completed to 950 feet, but they were only partially reamed to 9" diameter during the 2001-02 season.

Meanwhile, back at the station, the larger structural components of the project were being prefabricated...

putting things together

The vault was constructed out by the construction Jamesways...here is Pete Koson lowering the transformer into the vault on 23 December 2001 (JC).
Carpenter Billy Texter (right) and an unidentified GA finish up the inside of the electronics room in the instrumentation building. The opening behind Billy would get a freezer door leading to the cold room and ladder to the surface. The vault and building would be installed a year later in 2002-03.
I wonder where the red stuff came from
Jack Corbin is examining these prefabricated vaults; one would be buried in 2002-03 to house the shallow seismic sensors. They are corrugated metal pipe covered with some familiarly colored siding.
cheese head
here's one of the completed vaults ready to go to the SPRESSO site (JC).
Okay, time to give the secret away. Not all of those shallow sensor
vaults got installed at SPRESSO. Now you know where that thing
that was on top of the Cheese Palace came from.

Most of these photos were found on the common drive and are credited to Kent Anderson (USGS principal investigator). Other USGS team members were Don Anderson, Jared Vineyard and Rhett Butler; specific credits (TG) are as indicated. The 1999 photo was contributed by Neil Ziegelman (NZ). A few others are by construction supervisor Jack Corbin (JC), Kristan Hutchison (KH) (from this 29 December 2002 Antarctic Sun article), and 2002 AMANDA winterover Katherine Rawlins (KR). Also thanks to the IRIS image gallery!
Continue on to the 2002-03 SPRESSO project...

construction photo index | Aerial photo index