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Deep-Drilling Engineering

Author Name : Smith Lee

Deep drill holes or boreholes are applied in prospecting for minerals and
where these are gaseous or liquid in character for bringing them to the
surface. The high demands ordered upon this branch of engineering have
caused the traditional percussion drilling techniques, with their various
drawbacks, to be superseded by continuous rotary drilling. Depths of more
than 8000 m (26000ft) have been reached by this technique.

The drilling rod is suspended from a pulley block within a lattice steel tower
called as drilling derrick which may be used as much as 60m (200 ft.) high
and designed for loads of up to 600
tons. For drilling operations on a
more limited scale, a jack knife-
typed collapsible mast on a mobile
chassis may more conveniently be
used.

A square rod, which fits with a


socket in a power-driven turntable,
transmits the rotary motion to the
drill rod and thus to the drill bit
attached to the rod. For drilling in
hard rock a roller bit is used, which
consists of three toothed conical
steel elements with wedded on
hard metal (tungsten carbide) tips. The drill rod is hollow during drilling a
flushing liquid is pumped down through the rod and then rises to the surface
through the annular space between the rod and the wall of the drill hole.

This liquid, which consists of water to which certain substances which are
held in suspension have been added to increase its specific gravity (1.2 to
1.6) and is referred to as drilling mud, is kept in circulation by pumping. It
serves to cool the drill bit and to keep the drill hole clean and free of
obstructing matter; it washes away the debris produced by the drill and
carries it to the surface. On emerging at the surface, the liquid serve to
consolidate the wall of the drill hole, preventing its collapse.

Another function of the liquid is to counteract, by its high specific gravity,


any gas or oil pressure that may build up in the hole. With rotary drilling it is
possible to obtain rock specimens (cores) for examination. For this purpose a
core barrel provided with an annular bit is used instead of an ordinary bit. A
cylindrical specimen of rock is thus cut from the bottom of the hole and can
be brought to the surface.
The drill rod is assembled from units up to 32 m (105ft.) in length. On the
working platform in the tower is the control panel for operating the
machinery. Below and beside the platform are the electrical motors (up to
2500 hp) for driving the winch, turntable, pumps, etc.