Lakes are archives of climate history, and deep drilling in lakes has produced a wealth of information of how the Earth’s climate has changed over time. Enabling scientists worldwide to delve deeper into past climate changes and biological evolution, DOSECC (Drilling, Observation and Sampling of the Earths Continental Crust), a not-for-profit corporation that provides leadership and technical support in subsurface sampling and monitoring technology, has designed and built the new Deep Lake Drilling System (DLDS) specifically for sampling sediments from deep lakes. The DLDS platform made its maiden voyage on Lake Van, Turkey in July and August 2010. 

The DLDS is designed to drill 4,593 feet. The DLDS platform consists of two main parts – the drilling rig and associated equipment, and the barge itself. The drilling rig is a top-head-drive rotary rig designed for water well and oil and gas drilling. DOSECC has made extensive modifications to the rig, which has turned it into a deep coring rig capable of collecting scientific samples.

The drilling barge is constructed with six separate containers connected in a two-by-three configuration. Drilling is done through a hole (called a moonpool) built into one of the modules. The barge is a modular system that enables easy shipping anywhere in the world. When assembled, the DLDS is 80 feet long by 24 feet wide.

Along with the drilling rig, drilling pipe, mud tanks and associated supplies, the platform also accommodates both a science office and a driller’s shack. The science office is used for on-board sampling from the core catcher and for labeling and orienting the core samples. During the drilling crew shift change the cores are transported to the shore for additional sampling and testing.

DOSECC operated in Van at a water depth of 1,181 feet. The deepest borehole at the Lake Van project was 820 feet below the lake floor. Upcoming projects for the DLDS include the Dead Sea in Israel (Nov. 2010 to Feb. 2011) and Lake Ohrid in Macedonia (March 2011 to June 2011).

More information on the organization, its projects and participants is available