Science Drilling Office

The Science Drilling Office was established to formally recognise the expert knowledge of scientific drilling we have within the Centre.

The Science Drilling Office drilling in Greenland


A key element in the scientific success of the ARC has been in the development of expertise in sea ice operations and the technology for drilling from floating ice. In the 1980s and 1990s this was developed within ARC by Alex Pyne and made available to projects such as CIROS and Cape Roberts Project. Since the mid 1990s, the ARC has also supported ice core drilling field work in Antarctica.

The value of this capability has become increasingly appreciated, bringing increased demand in terms of more ambitious projects, and workload.

For the first two ANDRILL drill holes (MIS and SMS), the ANDRILL Science Committee and Antarctica New Zealand, as project operators, contracted the ARC (specifically Alex Pyne and later Tamsin Falconer) to assist in developing, planning and operating the drilling system. With the success of ANDRILL, and the concurrent developing capability in ice core drilling, it was decided to formally recognize the expertise in the ARC as the 'Science Drilling Office (SDO).

Our Expertise

Our expertise in scientific drilling is based on a thorough understanding of the aims of scientific projects, together with an in depth knowledge of the possibilities and limitations of polar drilling technology.


Looking up the ANDRILL drill mast, Antarctica

The SDO has been established to provide services including:

  • scoping advice for drilling operations logistics
  • design and development of drilling systems and equipment
  • planning of drilling operations including operation site surveys
  • interface between drilling contractors, the science community and logistics providers
  • management of operations and drilling on site.


Recent and current projects that the SDO is involved with include:

  • advice and planning for future ANDRILL drilling targets.
  • development of an intermediate depth Ice Core Drill.
  • advice on the Lake El’gygytgyn Intercontinental Drilling Project (ICDP).

More information

For further information about the SDO and enquiries about support please contact Alex Pyne.