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St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center

St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Research and Support Capabilities

Research and Support Capabilities at the St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center

Shipboard Operations

Portable Auger Drilling System (PADS)

The Portable Auger Drilling System (PADS) is a custom designed system developed by personnel in the St. Petersburg USGS office. PADS was developed to address the need for the extraction of deep continuous or near-continuous sediment cores from a variety of platforms. The disassembled system had to be easily erected and disassembled on site and compact enough for transport by small cargo trailer or suburban truck. PADS uses off-the-shelf drilling equipment made by Acker Drilling Co. The system consists of 3 1/4 inch I.D. hollow-stem auger with a Laskey sediment coring device. The unit is hydraulically powered by a 31-HP V-twin air-cooled Briggs and Stratton custom built hydraulic pump supply system (designed by Gibson Hydraulics in Lutz, FL). The power supply was designed so that four people could move it. The engine and the hydraulic oil reservoir were built as two separate units within their own steel frames for better mobility.

PADS can be assembled and mounted onto a 25 ft aluminum barge for coring in shallow marine and lacustrine environments (<20 ft of water). It is also used on land for coring beach or marsh systems. Auger systems do not perform well in loose unconsolidated sandy settings. Sand that is saturated with water flows freely into the hollow-stem section of the pipe which can either jam the core barrel or does not allow for reinsertion of the core barrel. PADS has worked extremely well in thick muddy sediments, such as in Louisiana, where 70 to 80 foot cores of continuous muddy sediments have been extracted.

More information:

Portable Auger Drilling System water deployment on the auger barge
PADS water deployment on the auger barge. USGS personnel used the PADS system to extract a 70-ft continuous sediment core. [larger version]
  Land based use of the Portable Auger Drilling System
Land based use of the PADS on North Island, South Carolina, by USGS personnel in cooperation with Coastal Carolina researchers. [larger version]
  technician loading an all terrain vehicle onto the barge
USGS technician loading an ATV onto the USGS barge after completion of coring on North Island, South Carolina. Project goal was to verify the ages and time sequence for island spit formation. [larger version]


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