EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Improving the Accessibility of Borehole Geophysics: A Cost-Efficient, Highly Modifiable Borehole Tilt Sensor

Ian Lee1,4, Robert Hawley1, David Collins2, and Joshua Elliott3
Ian Lee et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA
  • 2Science Division Electronics Shop, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA
  • 3Polar Research Equipment, Lebanon, NH, USA
  • 4Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

We present a cost-efficient borehole tilt sensor that was developed by our group at Dartmouth College to study ice deformation on Jarvis Glacier in Alaska. We first detail the entire sensor development, deployment, and data collection process, along with showcasing successful use cases of our sensors on Jarvis and other glaciers both by our and other geophysical research groups. For our Jarvis work, we installed our tilt sensor system in two boreholes drilled close to the lateral shear margin of Jarvis Glacier and successfully collected over 16 months of uninterrupted borehole deformation data in a harsh polythermal glacial environment. The data included gravity and magnetic measurements that tracked the orientation of the sensors in the borehole as ice flows, and we used the resultant kinematic measurements to compute borehole deformation that provided insights into the ice flow dynamics on polythermal glaciers. Our tilt sensors can house many types of sensors to accommodate different scientific needs (e.g., temperature, pressure, electrical conductivity), and can be adapted for the different glacial thermal regimes and conditions like Athabasca Glacier in Canada, which is a temperate glacier in contrast to Jarvis’ polythermal regime. There remains a high knowledge and financial barrier to entry for borehole geophysics research for both development and procurement of a tilt sensor system, and our goal is to lower this barrier by supporting production efforts of our tilt sensor system for both research and educational needs. With our established sensor development plan and demonstrated success in the field, our group has collaborated with Polar Research Equipment (PRE), a Dartmouth alumni-founded company specializing in the development of polar research tools, to serve as a commercial resource to help support polar researchers during the development and/or production of an effective and cost-efficient (~80% cheaper than commercial versions) tilt sensor and its associated systems.

How to cite: Lee, I., Hawley, R., Collins, D., and Elliott, J.: Improving the Accessibility of Borehole Geophysics: A Cost-Efficient, Highly Modifiable Borehole Tilt Sensor, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-1679,, 2023.