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Drilling campaign is up to speed

The drilling campaign for the Einstein Telescope is in full swing.  A total of 11 exploration wells to an average depth of 250 metres are planned to get a better picture of the subsurface in the search area. Technical manager Wim Walk takes stock of the interim situation.

How is it going?

Wim Walk: “We can be quite satisfied so far. The first drilling in Hombourg went very well. We are now drilling in Sint Pietersvoeren, Teuven, Gemmenich and Obsinnich. Of course, there are always those little things that sometimes delay the start of somewhere, but on the other hand, our first drilling in Hombourg took much less time than we had expected. If you offset that against each other, it all runs on schedule. It’s nice working with such a professional and experienced drilling firm like Stump.”

Technisch manager booronderzoek Win Walk
Technical manager of subsurface research Wim Walk

Are the drillings getting a lot of attention?

Wim Walk: “Quite a lot. For the first drilling in Hombourg in Wallonia, there was a lot of media interest. And the second drilling in Sint Pietersvoeren was the first in Flanders. Flemish minister Brouns, governor Lantmeesters of Belgian Limburg and mayor Gaens of Voeren and in their wake several media came to watch it start. School classes visited a few drilling sites. From colleagues who told the story there, I hear that the kids reacted very enthusiastically. We are also planning viewing moments at a number of locations for interested people.”

What do you still have ahead of you?

Wim Walk: “Our list counts 11 boreholes, so we still have several to go in the coming months. In Aubel, in Henri-Chapelle and on the Dutch side in Epen and Vijlen. The final preparations for these are now under way. We are postponing one drilling for the time being: that is the one in the Vijlenerbos car park. This has to do with some logistical factors. The breeding season for birds also played a role in the decision to postpone this drilling. Instead, we are looking for an additional drilling site in the German-speaking area in Wallonia and are thinking of bringing forward the second drilling at Sint Pietersvoeren.”

Boorlocatie in Hombourg
Drilling location in Hombourg

Will you have sufficient information about the subsurface by then?

Wim Walk: “We will know a lot more, but not enough yet. For instance, so-called resistivity measurements are also on the agenda. We then send a weak current signal into the soil. The way the signal is reflected back provides information about the layers in the soil. You can compare it to making an ultrasound in a hospital. This allows you to stretch a net of information, as it were, between the drilling locations and the measurement locations. Additional drilling and seismic measurements will follow at a later date, which will then focus more specifically on the possible locations for the three vertices.”

Great to hear that all is going reasonably well. But what everyone is particularly curious about: can anything be said about the results yet?

Wim Walk: “That will take some time.  For that, we will first have to properly analyse the rocks in the drill cores brought to the surface in the current campaign. Let’s not speculate too early, because there is quite a long way to go.”

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