Sonic Drilling Basics

Sonic Drilling Basics

Choosing the method of drilling is actually about considering the method of penetration, the removal of cuttings, and the method of stabilizing the boring contrary to the geological condition of the site and the overall goal of the drilling project. Considering all these, one can say that sonic drilling is most often used in areas that are difficult to reach and areas with sensitive environments. Sonic drill is widely used in drilling challenging terrains as well, where conventional drilling methods cannot drill easily.

How it Works

The sonic drilling got its name from the technology it uses that makes the whole thing work. The mechanism driving the drill bit generates resonance. In the sonic drill head, you’ll find two oscillators and they are basically out of tune. They purposely act as counterbalances that work against each other. Once tuned the way you want these two oscillators to be, you generate resonance. The vibration travels from the head down the string to the drill bit, and that’s what’s driving the sonic drill.

The method of penetration in sonic drilling is rotation and resonance. The method of removing cuttings by slipping recovered core samples into a polyethylene sample liner or lexan liner. Method of stabilizing boring is by running the core barrel to the ground, then running or overriding the casing before retracting. Water is sometimes used to aid this procedure especially for deeper depths. However, most operators prefer doing the procedure dry to easily find out the groundwater. With sonic drilling, you could expect to have continuous core, as it is inherent to the method. A continuous core allows you to see the soil at the depths that is drilled. This provides you to know and understand the conditions of the subsurface.

The crew will then put a polyethylene sleeve or bag over the core barrel after retrieving the core sample from the subsurface. Then, by resonating the drill pipe, the core sample is forced out to the poly bag. These core samples are typically kept in 3-foot bags to manage them easily. How deep you can drill depends on the size of the casing and the formations.


A sonic drilling equipment may a little bit more costly upfront, but the benefits you can get from this technology make it a really worthwhile investment, especially on bigger drilling projects. With sonic drilling, you will have high quality samples, both water and core. You’ll have multiple sample programs with just one drill with minimal deviation. It is basically the best drill rig for difficult drilling operations and applications. It can handle challenging terrains and soil conditions. Moreover, sonic drilling is environmentally friendly technology with reduced material waste and decreased impact or disruption to the environment. It is best for drilling sensitive environments.

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