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November 15th, 2013

Light Vehicle Training and Dive Hole Drilling

by Mary Tilton

Tilton Head Shot

First thing this morning, we had light vehicle training so that we could drive the pickup trucks and vans around station.  Light vehicle training was pretty much “operating a vehicle in cold weather on the ice/snow” training; a huge list of dos and don’ts and other information about the vehicles on site.

After training and lunch, we accessed our storage locker and gathered equipment for drilling some dive holes. Terry and other divers will be jumping in the frigid water in dry suits to take some marine soil samples during our stay. On the way out to drill, we found out that the GPS was not charging properly despite being left to charge overnight. We had just enough battery power to find our drill sites and mark them with flags. Then, a huge vertical drill was backed to the site and drilling began. The ice filings at the edge of each hole had to be shoveled while drilling to keep it clear and maintain a channel for water to flow once the water line was reached. After drilling, the hole had to be cleaned of large debris with nets.

Starting to drill a dive hole

Mary clearing the filings berm

Reaching the water

Steve cleaning the hole

A completed dive hole


Here is a short video made two years ago by Michelle Brown, a teacher who came down with us in 2011.

While waiting for the drill to be moved to the next drill site, I got a sneak peek into what will be forthcoming for our team. A dive hole was drilled in October that ended up freezing, making the hole too small for a diver to go through. The water was calm enough for us to see the sea floor! The whole sheet of ice glowed blue and shed just enough light for us to see the bottom. Tomorrow Terry will be doing a test dive at one of the holes we drilled today.  

Inside the dive hut looking at the sea floor