Antarctic drilling gear in use at Marsden Quarry

TESTING EQUIPMENT ... Researchers from Northumbria University, Newcastle, have been testing new borehole radar technology at Marsden Quarry.
TESTING EQUIPMENT ... Researchers from Northumbria University, Newcastle, have been testing new borehole radar technology at Marsden Quarry.
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RESEARCHERS at a North-East university have been testing Antarctic drilling gear at a South Tyneside quarry.

Staff from Northumbria University in Newcastle visited Marsden Quarry to try out an early prototype of borehole radar technology they are working on.

Marsden Quarry provided us with an ideal opportunity to test the new prototype borehole radar.

Dr Mike Lim, Northumbria University

When fully developed, the new borehole radar will be used to explore ice sheet and glacier structures. It could also be used for scientific drilling projects on the Antarctic ice sheet led by the university’s associate dean for research, John Woodward.

The borehole radar technology provides 360-degree information about the density and depth of the material’s surrounding boreholes and might ultimately be incorporated into drill heads to aid in precision drilling.

During the initial site visit to Marsden Quarry, a field team comprising Mike Lim, Stuart Dunning and Matthew Pound tested the radar on boreholes behind an active limestone face.

Dr Lim said: “Marsden Quarry provided us with an ideal opportunity to test the new prototype borehole radar.

“It’s rare to get an opportunity to conduct research in the active part of a quarry, but that is exactly what we needed for this test, and we are extremely grateful to the team at Owen Pugh.”

Andy Mountford, general manager of Owen Pugh Aggregates, the quarry’s operator, said: “When we were approached by Northumbria University, we were more than happy to let them test their prototype at the uarry as it has the potential to have ground-breaking capabilities in the world of field data collection.”

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“It enabled us not just to collect data in a dense grid that should enable us to interpolate the structure of the rock mass, but we can also validate our results after the blasting when the surveyed layers become exposed.