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Super sonic

super sonic

Ray Roussy’s sonic drill head is an award-winning, patented technology that works by combining rotation with high-frequency vibration to advance the drill pipe. Sonic vibrations transmitted through the pipe to the drill bit cause material in its path to fluidise, allowing the pipe to cut through various types of material with ease.

This allows the sonic drill to achieve average penetration rates that are three to five times greater than conventional methods, such as mud rotary, air rotary and auger drilling systems. This faster drilling rate reduces on-site time and project costs.

Sonic drills can operate using air or water as a lubricant. They require a smaller engine, which helps to cut fuel costs and emissions, and are light-weight to keep the environmental footprint of drilling operations to an absolute minimum.

Sonic rigs are available in various sizes, and allow for track or truck mounts. They can recover a continuous core – including boulders, clay, silt, sand and gravel in stratigraphic sequence (extruded into clear, plastic sleeves) – from the surface to the bedrock at depths of over 100m.

Sonic drills have been proving their worth at site investigation projects in Mississippi, US; home to some of the coarsest silica sand in the world. Despite the area’s difficult drilling conditions, the state is home to more than 95 mining operations, and operators have welcomed a new approach to mineral exploration and site investigation. Daryl Karasch, a sonic drilling foreman for Traut Wells, says: “The Sonic gives the ability to drill all types of soil. We have had sands, clays, shale, sandstones and limestone all in the same hole, and had a 100% recovery rate. It is the quality of the core samples that makes sonic drilling so successful.”

Karasch has cored more than 60,000m in 18 different states using a Sonic drill rig since 1998. He has worked on a variety of projects, including:mineral and sand exploration; environmental site assessments; seismic work; underground storage tank investigations; delineation of contaminants prior to excavation or remediation; hydro-profiling, monitoring and recovery wells; glacial sediment studies, and geothermal installations.

“We now have two sonic rigs and we’ve never had a problem with either one. We have added pumps and other extras to suit our specific needs, but we would never veer away from Ray’s heads.

“Core samples can be stored and transported in the sleeve, or cut open on the job site to log and photograph,” adds Mr Karasch. “Sonic drilling provides a precise and detailed profile of virtually any soil conditions, and we have gone to depths of 150m.”

According to Mr Karasch, the greatest advantage of sonic drilling is its ability to see below ground level – to obtain large volumes of undisturbed core samples, which allow geologists to undertake detailed analysis.

“For example, on one site investigation project we looked at the core sample and could see oil contamination in the limestone. This indicated that there had been a big oil spill over time,” he says. “We quickly drilled around the area, and the client got a profile of how deep and widespread the problem was, so he could start remediation.”


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