A hot water drill built by Victoria University will be used to blast through the Ross Ice Shelf to perform an ambitious research project in October this year.
Scaffolding couplers from Safesmart Access will be used to install a support frame for the boiler flues used to heat the water. "Scaff fittings are ideal for our temporary construction as they are cheap, strong, lightweight (when used with ali scaff tube) and modular, requiring little effort to install with minimal tools." says Darcy Mandeno, Operations and Field Engineer at Victoria University's Antarctic Research Center. "I have used scaff fittings for construction of sleds for pulling equipment on snow and ice, whilst my colleague has used them in the past to build automatic weather stations for use in Antarctica."
The hot water drill system, capable of reaching 1000m ice depths will drill a hole through the Ross Ice Shelf to enable scientists to investigate various processes in the ice itself, the ocean underneath and the sea floor. Other investigations will be looking at the biological system and effects of climate change.
The project is primarily lead by Otago University but with collaboration from Auckland, Waikato, Canterbury, Victoria University and Antarctica New Zealand, who provides the significant field and logistics support. The drill was built in Wellington last year, was tested at a site close to Scott base last summer, and is now deploying for the real deal at the site selected by Otago scientists lead by Christina Hulbe.
We wish Christina, Darcy and their colleagues all the very best for this exciting project. We love hearing about innovative use of scaffolding gear, and are excited to have a small part in this revolutionary research project!