Volcanic cores from Iceland’s youngest island

March 22, 2018

 by Savannah Adkins Digital Marketing Co-Ordinator at Rig Source Inc.

Drilling into the Surtsey Volcano

Formed only 50 years ago from volcanic eruptions below the sea floor, Surtsey Island is a natural habitat protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for scientific research. Named after a fire jötunn known as Surtr in Norse Mythology, this island, located just south of Iceland, gained national attention during its fouryear eruption phase in the 1960s and has since contributed a great deal to the study of our earth’s biological processes. Scientists monitor the island exterior for physical changes, and carried out the original internal survey on Surtsey in 1979 when the first core sample was extracted. Now, 38 years later, after decades of planning and coordination, scientists have drilled into the volcanic island again to recover a secondary set of samples for comparison, while also drilling a hole through the volcano’s main vent to discover further findings.

CS1000 core drill rig rental

To drill into Surtsey, scientists hired DOSECC Exploration Services, a core drilling company specializing in innovative solutions for scientific drilling operations. DOSECC is committed to scientific interests and they engineer creative strategies to ensure the best equipment is used to meet the unique goals for drilling projects around the world. For the Surtsey drilling project, DOSECC reached out to Rig Source Inc. for an Atlas Copco CS1000 drill rig rental. DOSECC was confident the CS1000 rig supplied by Rig Source would be the best core rig for the project due to its compact size. ‘We currently don’t own a drill comparable in size to the CS1000 and we needed something small and compact for shipping and simplistic assembly on the island,’ states Steve Cole, Drill Foreman at DOSECC. Rig Source recently expanded their drill rig rental fleet to include core drill rigs after the economic downturn in the core drilling industry lead to an increased demand for rentals. ‘We have found core drill rig rentals provide contractors the flexibility to use various pieces of equipment while reducing the risk associated with ownership,’ says Mike Crimaldi, Owner of Rig Source. ‘Renting the CS1000 core drill rig from Rig Source provided us access to the exact sized rig we needed for the Surtsey drilling project and greatly reduced our overall expenses for the project,’ states Beau Marshall, Operations Manager at DOSECC.

Aerial view of the island of Surtsey

Drilling preparation

Long-time partners in the drilling industry, Rig Source and DOSECC teamed up to ensure the CS1000 drill rig was in tiptop shape and prepped for drilling on the remote island. Rig Source performed a full maintenance check and updated service to the rig prior to the start of the project, and provided DOSECC with tooling and back up parts to cater for any unplanned issues that might arise while on the island. DOSECC then sent Cole along with Lead Driller, Justin Blouin to Rig Source’s Elburn, Illinois facility to disassemble and label the CS1000 for its shipment to Surtsey. ‘It was imperative that we had our drillers familiarizing themselves with the rig prior to arriving on the island because once on the island these guys had minimal access to support while reassembling the CS1000 for drilling,’ says Marshall.

When the unit arrived at Surtsey, the drillers were able to quickly reassemble the rig with the help of a helicopter for piecing the large parts together. ‘The extensive prep work completed by Rig Source and DOSECC provided a seamless rebuild on the island, and we had absolutely no issues connecting the hydraulics which saved a great deal of time,’ Blouin confirms.

CS1000 operation and handling

Operation of the CS1000 drill rig commenced on August 4, 2017 and the rig ran around the clock until project completion on September 4, 2017. During operations, DOSECC conquered many scientific milestones for the Surtsey project and ultimately met their projected drilling goals.

Most notably, the CS1000 successfully drilled three holes into Surtsey. The first hole was drilled for a 151 m hole while the second hole made it to a vertical depth of 190 m to serve as a long-term monitoring well. The third hole was distinguished for being the first angled hole drilled into and through the volcanic vent, and was terminated at 354 m.

DOSECC’s drilling team was extremely satisfied with the operation and handling of the CS1000 core drill rig rental. ‘The drill performed above and beyond any of our expectations. Absolutely no leaks or problems of any kind which is truly unheard of,’ asserts Blouin.

With the help of Rig Source and so many more, DOSECC successfully captured some unique core samples from the volcanic island of Surtsey. The information obtained from these core runs can be used and studied for years to come. According to Beau Marshall, ‘Everybody connected to Surtsey is very satisfied with the outcome of this drilling project. We thank Rig Source for providing a reliable CS1000 drill rig along with outstanding customer service as it afforded us the ability to reach our goals.’ ‘Following the Surtsey drilling project from start to finish was remarkable for everyone at Rig Source, but to say that our company, Rig Source provided the drilling equipment used to pierce the main vent of Surtsey is just extraordinary. We’re honored to have been chosen by DOSECC as their drill rig supplier for this incredible project,’ states Crimaldi.

For further details

• www.icdp-online.org/projects/world/europe/surtsey/

• www.surtsey50years.utah.edu/

• www.facebook.com/Dosecc-Exploration-Services-LLC-284723191871131/

• www.facebook.com/surtsey50years/