A technique for continuous detection of drill liquid in ice cores

Warming, E.; Svensson, A.; Vallelonga, P.; Bigler, Matthias (2013). A technique for continuous detection of drill liquid in ice cores. Journal of glaciology, 59(215), pp. 503-506. International Glaciological Society 10.3189/2013JoG12J124

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When drilling ice cores deeper than ∼100 m, drill liquid is required to maintain ice-core quality and to limit borehole closure. Due to high-pressure air bubbles in the ice, the ice core can crack during drilling and core retrieval, typically at 600–1200 m depth in Greenland. Ice from this 'brittle zone' can be contaminated by drill liquid as it seeps through cracks into the core. Continuous flow analysis (CFA) systems are routinely used to analyse ice for chemical impurities, so the detection of drill liquid is important for validating accurate measurements and avoiding potential instrument damage. An optical detector was constructed to identify drill liquid in CFA tubing by ultraviolet absorption spectroscopy at a wavelength of 290 nm. The set-up was successfully field-tested in the frame of the NEEM ice-core drilling project in Greenland. A total of 27 cases of drill liquid contamination were identified during the analysis of 175 m of brittle zone ice. The analyses most strongly affected by drill liquid contamination include insoluble dust particles, electrolytic conductivity, ammonium, hydrogen peroxide and sulphate. This method may also be applied to other types of drill liquid used at other drill sites.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Bigler, Matthias


500 Science > 530 Physics




International Glaciological Society




Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

25 Sep 2014 15:15

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:32

Publisher DOI:






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