Sonic Technology // Sonic Drilling Methods

Sonic Drilling Methods

Overburden Sampling

Sonic drills through cobbles, boulders, and hard layers/lenses. Sonic performs very well in heaving sands. Sonic is the only drilling technique that delivers continuous cores in all types of overburden soils. Bringing speed and accuracy to the drilling operation, enabling decision making capabilities by proving mining value.

Dry Drilling

Dry drilling is when the high-frequency vibrations of the sonic head are utilized to drill through the earth without the need for drilling fluid. This technique is commonly used in applications where the Investigative Derived Waste (IDW) poses a safety hazard or an environmental concern, but the integrity of the soil or rock sample is also important.

While dry drilling creates more heat than drilling with fluid, it allows drillers to get high quality soil samples without introducing foreign water to the core and while also giving them the ability to drill where water may not be available.

Sonic dry drilling can be used in a variety of applications, including mining, environmental, and geotechnical drilling through various types of overburden.

Rock Coring (Sonic and Diamond) 

When coring rock with a sonic rig, the sonic head is used to create a high-frequency oscillation that is transmitted through the drill string and into the rock formation. This oscillation causes the rock to break down as the bit percussively drills the formation. This allows the drill bit to penetrate the rock with minimal force and without generating large amounts of cuttings. Water is used during the process to bring the cuttings to the surface, along with cooling and lubricating the bit.

On the surface, the core is extracted from the core barrel using the sonic vibrations in combination with water. The extracted core sample is typically of high quality and is suitable for use in a wide range of mining, geotechnical, and environmental applications.

Flushing Casing 

In applications where the lithology and/or areal extent of contamination is already known, TSi Sonic Drill Rigs can deliver sonic speed and efficiency without the additional time needed to gather samples. Flushing casing utilizes sonic casing only, without the core barrel, along with an increase in water flow to force material into the formation. Total depth can be reached up to 10 times faster, resulting in an open, cased borehole. 

Sonic Percussive Method 

TSi Sonic Drill Rigs can combine the speed and power of sonic drilling with the advantages of traditional down-the-hole (DTH) hammers, ideal for use when core samples are not required. DTH methods typically use a drilling device threaded to the end of a drill rod that features carbide buttons on the bit face. Actuated by compressed air, the hammer strikes the rock at 30 to 40 times per second, pulverizing it. The resulting dust is exhausted from the borehole by the compressed air. TSi Sonic Drill Rigs provide the choice of drilling with a DTH hammer, or the faster Sonic Percussive Method (SPM). This method oscillates a closed-faced bit up to 150 times per second, offering a highly effective alternative to a DTH. 

Down-the-Hole (DTH) Capable

Sonic drilling provides effective DTH capabilities. Combining the sonic percussive method (sonic force + rotation) with the appropriate drill bit and compressed air, efficient and effective drilling through rock while removing the drill cuttings out of the hole.

Angle Drilling 

Angle drilling is often necessary in projects when vertical drilling is impractical or impossible.  The TSi 150T and TSi 150C can drill from vertical to 45°.  The TSi 150CC can drill from vertical to nearly horizontal. The TSi 150AC8 can drill from vertical to 130° in any direction. 

In environmental applications, contaminated plumes can migrate under buildings. When assessments require soil and groundwater samples from beneath these structures, angle drilling is often required. Once the appropriate drilling angle and distance are determined, a sample can be taken from a very specific area.

Geo-construction projects often require that tie-back and earth-retention anchors be installed at an angle in the sides of buildings or foundations, or in unstable rock structures or slopes.

Mining applications such as drilling in tailings, waste piles or heap leach pads require angle drilling for better access and maximum recoveries. Sonic drilling provides cleaner angle drilling with fully encased boreholes


introduction to Mike Scaringella
Sales Manager, 27 Years Experience