Beyond EPICA Oldest Ice Field Diary

The Beyond EPICA project completed its third year of work, despite the cancellation of the last field season (2020-21), due to COVID19 restrictions.

The field camp at Little Dome C (LDC), established during the 2019-20 season, is now open and ready to receive the people for the 2022-23 field campaign (November 2022-to-January 2023) for the second ice core drilling campaign.

An international team made up of 15 people will begin the deep drilling campaign. They will work for over two months at LDC to reach depths of a few hundred metres.

For more information about the BEOI project, please visit the homepage.


18. January 2023

18 January 2023

Drilling reaches 800 m depth – time for another group photo with the 800 m ice core, and a little celebration with a bottle of sparkling wine from Saverio. This is the full team at the Little Dome C camp: (back, left to right) Martin, Florian, Gunther, Lemmi, Matthias, Michele, Frank; (front, left to right) Robert, Romilly, Saverio, Andreas, Julien, Markus.

17. January 2023

17 January 2023

The Australian Antarctic Division chartered Ken Borek Basler at the BE-OIC camp, picking up shallow ice cores and one person from the Australian traverse. The Basler landed on the 2.4 km long skiway that had been prepared and groomed by both Michele and the Australian team using PistenBulley blades and a ski-resort type snow groomer. Although Twin Otters have landed in earlier seasons at camps on Little Dome C, this is the first ever landing by a Basler. The flight had originated at the Australian station Casey and flew back there after loading the cores.

16. January 2023

16 January 2023

14. January 2023

14 January 2023

The combined personnel from the BE-OIC drilling project, the French science traverse, and the Australian MYIC traverse.

13. January 2023

13 January 2023

Romilly collects a series of 30 cm short cores along a photogrammetry transect several times during the season, cutting the cores into 10 mm samples. The project is designed to follow the development of the snow surface topography and stable water isotopes during the season.

12. January 2023

12 January 2023

Read the field diary from 12. January 2023 here.
You can follow the progress of the drilling operation in this graph.

11. January 2023

11 January 2023

Gunther returns to camp with the GPS survey instrument.

10. January 2023

10 January 2023

Martin and Robert extracting the core barrel from the main barrel of the drill. In the background, to the left, is one of the two 1000 liter containers for handling the drill fluid – we’ll look more at how the fluid is handled and recovered from the drill in the next couple of days.

9. January 2023

9 January 2023

Lifting ice core boxes from the core buffer onto a trailer to transport them to Concordia for long-term storage.

8. January 2023

8 January 2023

Martin and Robert with the PB300 at a GPS survey station R-1.5.

7. January 2023

7 January 2023

Pizza night with the seven colleagues from the French science traverse.

6. January 2023

6 January 2023

Inside the core buffer – three shipping containers welded together with a door at each end. The top of the containers is about 2 m under the snow, and this allows us to maintain a temperature inside around -35°C during the height of the local summer, and around -55°C during the winter. In the foreground are the racks of core troughs where we will place freshly drilled brittle zone cores, uncut after drilling, to allow them to relax for a year before further handling, cutting and bagging. At the far end of the container are the full boxes of core ready for transfer to the long-term storage at Concordia Station – each box contains six 1 m long cores and weighs around 50 kg.

5. January 2023

5 January 2023

The arrival of the French scientific traverse on a rather dull cloudy day.

4. January 2023

4 January 2023

Andreas with his birthday tiramisu, which was prepared for him by Franco, one of the chefs at Concordia Station. (In reality, the tiramisu arrived one day after the birthday, but Andreas had a good chocolate cake prepared by Saverio on his actual birthday.

3. January 2023

3 January 2023

Giuditta (right) and Romilly (left) with bag number 424 on the cutting bench. The break in the ice is the join between two runs of the drill.

2. January 2023

2 January 2023

Long cores are back! Romilly measures the length of a newly drilled core on the core-loggers bench.

1. January 2023

1 January 2023

The drill head with flat cutters. The three outer cutters are razor sharp knives that cut an annulus in the ice, with the ice core sliding up the inside of the inner barrel, and the ice chips and drilling fluid slurry passes up spirals on the outside of the core barrel. The core catchers inside the drill head break off the core and hold it in the barrel when the drill is brought back to the surface.

31. December 2022

31 December 2022

Arnold – the hardened steel cone cutter designed to isolate any debris in the borehole into a cone-shaped indentation on the top of the next ice core drilled.

30. December 2022

30 December 2022

Romilly’s colleague Roxanne operates the vacuum and pressure pumps to extract air from a tube let into the near-surface compacted snow and compress into a ‘Silcocan’ gas canister for later measurement of the mix of gases in the laboratory at LSCE.

29. December 2022

29 December 2022

Saverio gets help making the pizzas from (left to right) Andreas, Giuditta, Julien, Michele and Saverio.

28. December 2022

28 December 2022

Martin at the bottom of the inclined trench, replacing the broken hatch on the borehole well-head. The photo is taken of the image on a video display in the drillers cabin that takes a video feed from a camera trained on the well-head. We normally use this display to monitor the safe entry of the drill into the borehole. Above Martin’s head hangs the drill, while to his left is a ventilation shaft that sucks away the drilling fluid fumes that otherwise accumulate at the bottom of the trench.

27. December 2022

27 December 2022

The 4-meter system outer barrel, which is 10 m long, is brought into the drill tent by (left to right) Matthias, Lemmi, Frank and Gunther to mount onto the drill tower, and connect to the anti-torque and motor sections.

26. December 2022

26 December 2022

We wave goodbye to Markus (left) and Florian (right) as they head back to Concordia after spending the holiday season with us. Vito looks on in the background.

25. December 2022

25 December 2022

Lemmi prepares the hollow shafts for the long AWI drill which has a 4 m long core barrel.

24. December 2022

24 December 2022

Bound for Concordia!

23. December 2022

23 December 2022

Robert measuring a newly drilled, unbroken, 2.93 m long core on the logging bench. ‘Logging’ records details of the ice cores drilled with any damage noted on a Danish-designed core logging program on the laptop in the left of the photo. The program prompts for the measurements that must be recorded, and catches any mistakes made! Cores must be matched at the core break from one run to the next, and marks made in pencil on the ice where the long lengths must be cut into 1.0 m long ‘bag’ sections for transport onwards. We also mark on the ice the direction of the top of the core, and the bag number. Above the core is a roll of paper used for drying off the drilling fluid from the surface of the ice. To the right of the photo are racks with two hollow shaft sections (top and bottom) and an outer barrel (middle rack). On the floor, with green spirals, is the Danish core barrel.

22. December 2022

22 December 2022

The drilling tent seen from skiway.. The picture is from the 2021/22 archive.

21. December 2022

21 December 2022

A view of the Camp from the road to Concordia. The picture is from the 2021/22 archive.

20. December 2022

20 December 2022

Lemmie adjusts the AWI fluid pump while Frank looks on; to the left of the fluid pump is the connector that holds the core barrel, while to the right of the pump is the lowest part of the ‘hollow shaft’.

19. December 2022

19 December 2022

Matthias and Frank after a long victorious fight with drill electronics.

18. December 2022

18 December 2022

Details of the German drill.

17. December 2022

17 December 2022

The cup of the gear with lot of metal shards from screws, bearing-balls and bearing cages mixed with the oil.

16. December 2022

16 December 2022

Rob after putting the first core of the season into the buffer.

15. December 2022

15 December 2022

Left: The DEP setup in the cold lab of Concordia. Right: A detail of the the temporary core storage facility in the cold lab in Concordia.

14. December 2022

14 December 2022

A detail of the drill head with some plastic pieces coming from the casing tubes.

13. December 2022

13 December 2022

Giuditta, Rob and Julien in front of the logging table with the last (3.2 m) core of the day.

12. December 2022

12 December 2022

Markus and Florian are proudly celebrating the opening of the cold lab in Concordia. They will start working on the last season core in the coming days.

11. December 2022

11 December 2022

Saverio, proudly looking at the first ice core drilled this year.

10. December 2022

10 December 2022

A new landscape today. Putting up the fiber-glass sticks for the photogrammetry project.

9. December 2022

9 December 2022

Left: tired scientists are taking a little nap after lunch before being catapulted in the warm atmosphere (-40°C) of the drilling tent. Right: the perfect horizontal cutting made by the Swiss saw masterfully operated by Markus and Florian.

8. December 2022

8 December 2022

Left: the artificial ice core prepared by Florian and Markus to test the Swiss saw. On the background the old glorious EPICA workshop in Concordia. Right: Ingenious scientists at work calibrating the load cell.

7. December 2022

7 December 2022

A lot of work on the drill today.

6. December 2022

6 December 2022

Matthias manufacturing anti-torque adaptor for EGRIP electronics.

5. December 2022

5 December 2022

Alignment of the core extraction table and electrical wiring of the FED (fluid extraction device).

4. December 2022

4 December 2022

Sunlight on the logging table .... We are working on it.

3. December 2022

3 December 2022

Romain working on the maintenance of the winch.

News from LDC - Sunday 28th November 2022

28 November 2022

The drill tent has been officially reopened, thanks to Saverio, Michele and Claudio! Next step: opening the entire camp!

19. January 2022

19 January 2022

Camp closure dinner at Little Dome C.

18. January 2022

18 January 2022

Ice needles of up to about 5 cm length next to the RADIX tent.

17. January 2022

17 January 2022

Matthias bidding farewell until the season 2022/2023.

16. January 2022

16 January 2022

Sleeping tent interior before closing for winterover.

15. January 2022

15 January 2022

Evening at LDC.

14. January 2022

14 January 2022

Last photo of the complete LDC team before the French colleagues relocate to Dome C.

13. January 2022

13 January 2022

Roof opening of the BEOIC drilling tent now closed for winterover.

12. January 2022

12 January 2022

View into the fascinating cryoscape at Little Dome C on a hazy day.

11. January 2022

11 January 2022

BEOIC drill in upright position sticking out of the drilling tent.

10. January 2022

10 January 2022

Aerial view of the LDC Camp.

9. January 2022

9 January 2022

Booster shot ready to be applied by Dr. Fabien at LDC.

8. January 2022

8 January 2022

Five flavours of pizzas: ready for the oven. The left most is La Speciale, with a good load of peperoncini and garlic.

7. January 2022

7 January 2022

Matthias focusing on a line of code that needs to be fixed.

6. January 2022

6 January 2022

Mid-day sun at Little Dome C illuminating the staircase to the purgatory (the BEOIC hole entrance).

5. January 2022

5 January 2022

View along the drill tower through the BEOIC drill tent with the open roof, the driller’s cabin and the fluid recycling cabin along the right side of the tent.

4. January 2022

4 January 2022

Romain working on the drip channel of the BEOIC drill.

3. January 2022

3 January 2022

BEOIC drilling tent with the drill tower in upright position (drilling position).

2. January 2022

2 January 2022

Collection of BEOIC drill heads made at AWI ready to be installed.

1. January 2022

1 January 2022

Little Dome C firn cores drilled by Philippe Possenti.

31. December 2021

31 December 2021

The remaining LDC personnel enjoying Saverio’s cuisine: Spaghetti marinara.

30. December 2021

30 December 2021

View from the roof of the BEOIC tent looking north (left) and south (right).

29. December 2021

29 December 2021

Matthias and Olivier on the scaffolding cutting through the tent canvas.

28. December 2021

28 December 2021

Sledge ready for transport to Dome C. The precious load includes 21 boxes of the BEIOC firn core pieces.

27. December 2021

27 December 2021

Jakob and Remo lowering the RADIX drill.

26. December 2021

26 December 2021

Olivier and Matthias with the BEOIC bore hole logger.

25. December 2021

25 December 2021

The LDC-BEOIC bore hole at 125 m depth, just below the casing.

24. December 2021

24 December 2021

The LDC-BEOIC Team after a sumptuous Christmas Dinner.

23. December 2021

23 December 2021

Setting the last BEOIC casing tube.

22. December 2021

22 December 2021

In the preparation of the casing operation at the BEOIC drilling trench.

21. December 2021

21 December 2021

Flag parade at the entrance of Little Dome C with Calogero, Carlo, Michele and Giacomo.

20. December 2021

20 December 2021

RADIX tent with some of the transport boxes for the less than 2 tons of equipment.

19. December 2021

19 December 2021

Concentrated work in the BEOIC drilling tent. Romain, Carlo and Philippe are cleaning the hole from reaming debris.

18. December 2021

18 December 2021

Tarmac at Dome C. Two Basler aircrafts (DC-3) bringing personnel and cargo. The Skidoo crew is ready to unload the cargo.

17. December 2021

17 December 2021

Matthias working on the electrical board.

16. December 2021

16 December 2021

David, our carpenter, prepares a pedestal.

15. December 2021

15 December 2021

The IGE reamer entering the BEOIC hole at the drilling trench floor at about 8 m depth.

14. December 2021

14 December 2021

Olivier Alemany with wide vision at Little Dome C.

13. December 2021

13 December 2021

Matthias working on the electrical installation in the drilling tent.

12. December 2021

12 December 2021

Giacomo in front of the satellite dish within the protective hull.

11. December 2021

11 December 2021

BEOIC drilling tent slowly filling up with two Vissmann cabins and the logging bench to the right.

10. December 2021

10 December 2021

Olivier and Anthony working hard that all activities have power.

9. December 2021

9 December 2021

Carlo and Mathias assembling the Vissmann elements.

8. December 2021

8 December 2021

Placement of the antenna for broadband communication.

7. December 2021

7 December 2021

The trench for the ice core containers is ready.

6. December 2021

6 December 2021

Entering Little Dome C precinct on the only road. The camp is visible in the background.

5. December 2021

5 December 2021

After a voyage of 1100 kilometers the traverse reaches the outskirts of Dome Concordia.

4. December 2021

4 December 2021

EIOC team holding the first firn core and marking the opening of the BEOIC drilling. FLTR: Pauty, Teste, Scalet, Panichi, Delanoe, Monaco, Possenti, Hüther.

14.-21. November 2021

21 November 2021

Flag outside weatherport.

7.-14. November 2021

14 November 2021

The ITASE modules (energy, living and storage) were opened and moved to the cargo line.