Geothermal Probe

Geothermal Probe

The Geothermal Probe was designed, crafted and assembled by faculty and machinists at UC Santa Cruz as part of the WISSARD project. This tool will be used to determine the amount of heat that rises from the Earth, below the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, in the area of Subglacial Lake Whillans. The flow of this "geothermal" heat is an important process that helps to determine where the ice sheet freezes, melts and flows.

The Geothermal Probe has two main sections. The top of the tool is weight stand, holding up to 600 lbs of weights in a frame that is narrow enough to fit into the hole in the ice to be created with the hot water drill. The bottom of the tool is a lance that holds independent temperature probes, which will be used to measure heat flow in the sediment below the ice sheet. Almost all of the parts are made of stainless steel, which will help in keeping the subglacial environment clean and uncontaminated.

Figure 1. This image shows the Geothermal Probe on its side, with the weight stand to the left and the lance and thermal probes to the right.

Figure 2. This image shows the Geothermal Probe viewed from the pointy end of the lance. Three temperature probes are "fanned" out along the lance so that the penetration of one does not disturb the sediment for the probes mounted higher up on the lance.