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Title: An inexpensive and portable drill rig for bedrock groundwater studies in headwater catchments

Author: Gabrielli, C.; McDonnell, J.J.;

Date: 2011

Source: Hydrological Processes. 26: 622-632

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Bedrock groundwater dynamics in headwater catchments are poorly understood and poorly characterized. Here, we present an inexpensive and portable bedrock drilling system designed for use in remote locations. Our system is capable of drilling bedrock wells up to 11 m deep and 38 mm in diameter in a wide range of bedrock types. The drill consists of a lawn mower engine adapted to rotate a diamond tipped coring bit, a small water pump to cool and flush the drill bit and a scaffolding platform for stable footing on steep slopes. The complete drilling assembly costs under $2000 USD. Here, we show proof-of-concept of our approach with 40 successful wells drilled in different geological substrates, including a conglomerate at the Maimai experimental catchment in New Zealand, volcanic breccias at the HJ Andrews experimental watershed in Oregon, USA, sandstone and siltstone at the Alsea watershed in Oregon, USA, and basalt at the Los Gavilanes experimental watershed in Veracruz, Mexico. We also present a transparent comparison between our design and other portable bedrock drilling systems and outline the strengths and weaknesses of each system.

Keywords: portable bedrock drill, bedrock groundwater, runoff generation processes, subsurface stormflow

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Gabrielli, C.; McDonnell, J.J. 2011. An inexpensive and portable drill rig for bedrock groundwater studies in headwater catchments. Hydrological Processes. 26: 622-632.


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