28. February 2008

Winter permafrost borehole drilling campaign started in Svalbard

Contact person for additional information: Hanne H. Christiansen

Text and photos by Hanne H. Christiansen

Click here for link to article in Svalbardposten March 7, 2008.  


To establish permafrost temperature monitoring in different landforms a winter drilling campaign has started today with a successful drilling of a 9.8 m deep borehole in glaciofluvial sediments in the central part of Longyearbyen valley. The hole was drilled app. 100 m south of Longyearbyen school, in challenging meteorological conditions with an air temperature of -17ºC, and with a wind speed of 10 m/s, so the effective air temperature was close to -40ºC. Never the less Jomar Finseth from Sintef and his assistant Ørjan Nerland, NGI, managed with the Sintef/UNIS drillrigg Majgøril in one day to drill down to 10 m in the coarse-grained glaciofluvial sediments, which has accumulated in the Longyear valley.



The Majgøril drillrigg in action in Longyear valley 28 February 2008 . Dust comes up as the drill hammers it way into the ground. Photo: Hanne H. Christiansen.


A casing was inserted into the borehole, and a 9.5 m long thermistor string was installed into the cased hole by TSP scientists and students immediately after the drilling finished. The drilling lasted around 4 hours.

As part of the international education activities in the TSP project, a school permafrost borehole temperature monitoring programme is taking place, coordinated by Dr. Kenji Yoshikawa, University of Alaska. This you find at http://www.uaf.edu/permafrost/. Dr. Yoshikawa is installing permafrost monitoring projects in schools across Alaska. In Norway we assume that only Longyearbyen School stands on permafrost, so most likely this will be the only Norwegian school to join this school permafrost monitoring network.



Drilling operation in front of Longyearbyen School, looking north. The sun at noon now reaches almost to sea level on the south facing mountain side north of Longyearbyen. Photo: Hanne H. Christiansen.  


The drilling campaign continues on Monday, when the drillrigg will be flown to the mountain Gruvefjellet next to Longyear valley, so establish a 5 m long thermistor string, which will be part of the measurements from the Gruvefjellet meteorological station. These data will become available here on the TSP website and on the UNIS website as part of the Gruvefjellet online meteorological service.


Left: Happy backfilling the borehole after the casing is in place. Niklas Allroggen and Hanne H. Christiansen. Photo: Stefanie Härtel.



Installing thermistor string, Hanne H. Christiansen, Håvard Juliussen and Stefanie Härtel. Photo: Niklas Allroggen.