Why Use Mud Rotary Drilling For Your Next Environmental Project

In the world of geotechnical engineering and environmental drilling, not all techniques and equipment are created equal. But why choose mud rotary drilling? Our expert team will dig into the advantages of mud rotary drilling and why it’s the perfect fit for your next project.

Benefits Beyond Unconsolidated Soils

In the drilling industry, mud rotary drilling has become a go-to technique for reaching depths and taking on a variety of soil types, including sand, silt, and clay. While air rotary drilling might be better for the deepest depths, mud rotary is best for sensitive, unstable conditions that make traditional drilling difficult.

Challenging soils allow mud rotary drills to shine, with different drilling muds and additives custom-formulated to address the unique soil challenges on your site and make quick work of any drilling.

Gravel & Cobble Layers

Sometimes, when we encounter gravel and cobble, the chances of well collapse and poor sample retention increase significantly. With mud rotary environmental drilling, we can use mud to stabilize the borehole, prevent collapses, and smoothly penetrate this rocky terrain. As a bonus, mud rotaries can also reduce the drill pressure, wear, and fatigue at great depths, reducing the wear and tear on costly drilling equipment.

Loose Overburden

In areas with loose overburden, like gravel deposits or sand, stability is needed. Mud rotary drilling keeps boreholes stable, preventing cave-ins that can hurt project costs and delay timelines. As the mud circulates through the borehole, it coats its walls and creates a temporary “shield” against collapse.

Water Encounters

Water-bearing formations offer unique challenges for traditional Canadian environmental drilling methods, like auger drilling tools that tend to lock up if the drilling is paused. With mud rotary drilling, the mud serves as a barrier, preventing water from infiltrating the borehole so we can take efficient, accurate samples and quickly install water wells. This method is great for drilling through water-bearing zones at both shallow and deep depths.

Better Boreholes, Better Samples: Mud Rotary Drilling

With mud rotary drilling, you can reach greater depths, place less fatigue on the drill, and help drilling technicians do the best job possible.

The samples we collect are of higher quality for more accurate site analysis because we can create an uninterrupted, supported borehole wall that’s much less likely to collapse. If boreholes collapse, our samples may be compromised, our drilling may be delayed, and your costs may increase significantly. With mud rotary drilling, you’re most likely to finish projects on time and within budget.

The Perks of Mud Rotary Drilling

The quality of mud rotary drilling samples is its biggest advantage. Here’s how it helps:

  • Minimized Soil Disturbance. Minimal soil disturbances go beyond simply preserving layering. The rotary mud also helps maintain in-situ moisture content in the soil, acting as a drilling agent to maintain the integrity of sensitive soils like clays. Our drilling preserves the natural soil stratigraphy and provides engineers and geologists with a complete picture of the soil’s subsurface for more accurate and reliable analysis.
  • Reduced Contamination. Reduced contamination is always essential, especially in projects where we’re assessing hazardous materials in the environment. The drilling mud acts as a barrier between the borehole wall and the surrounding soil, keeping contaminants out and maintaining the sample’s integrity. The collected sample accurately reflects the existing soil conditions at the specific depth, allowing for a more precise understanding of potential contaminant migration patterns and the presence of pollutants. With the right data, we can design the right remediation approaches to get your project site up to par.
  • Improved Sample Recovery. Beyond less contaminated samples, mud rotary drilling uses a circulation system that brings cuttings like soil and rock fragments to the surface to clear them out of the way. As a result, this continuous core retrieval gives us an uninterrupted picture of what’s under the surface, eliminating soil wash-outs with traditional drilling methods and better control over the sample’s collection and retrieval.
  • Continuous Sampling. Mud rotary drilling helps us collect continuous, intact soil cores necessary for characterizing the existing subsurface conditions. We can use these complete samples to analyze a formation’s entire vertical profile and see the full picture of soil composition, layer thicknesses, and more.
  • Preservation of Soil Structure. Drilling mud maintains structural integrity in your soil samples, which is even more important for cohesive soils, like clays, where mud prevents the samples from breaking apart or losing their natural moisture content.
  • Reduced Sample Distortion. Dry drilling methods can cause major sample distortion due to the lack of drilling fluids supporting the borehole. With mud rotary drilling, we skirt around that issue because drilling mud minimizes this distortion and maintains enough support in the soil.

The Power of Rotary Drilling Muds and Additives

Drilling muds are crucial to our success in this style of rotary drilling—without the right mud and additives, drilling can’t be adapted to meet unique project site conditions.

Bentonite Clay is a common additive that increase the viscosity of drilling mud to suspect cuttings, reduce fluid loss, and improve the overall stability of your borehole. Canadian drilling companies often use this clay because it’s readily available and adapts well in colder climates.

Polymers work well in high-friction soils as they enhance the mud’s ability to lubricate the drill. With ample lubrication, we see reduced friction between the drill string and the borehole wall for better drilling and reduced wear on our equipment.

Barite is often used to increase mud density when dealing with high pressures. With increased mud weight, we can easily control the influx of subsurface fluids.

Biocides are rarer on the job site, coming in handy in situations where high microbial activity is present. These biocides prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria to maintain the mud’s integrity and keep the sample intact for as long as possible.

Mud Rotary Drilling FAQs

What are the disadvantages of rotary drilling?

Mud rotary drilling is a great option, and we often recommend it to our clients. Still, it’s not the right tool for every job. It can be challenging to dispose of mud if it requires special treatments, and visual inspections in real-time are difficult. Still, analysis of the drilling mud and cuttings tells us all we need to know with even more accurate subsurface samples.

What is the difference between sonic and mud rotary drilling?

Unlike mud rotary drilling, which utilizes mud for lubrication and stability, sonic drilling relies on high-frequency vibrations instead. The drilling rigs generate these vibrations through a sonic head, which are transmitted down the drill string and ultimately to the drill bit at the bottom, causing the drill string to vibrate very rapidly. Drilling companies in Ontario may use either option.

Landshark Group: Canadian Drilling Contractors for Mud Rotary Drilling

Don’t let challenging, sensitive soils or water-bearing formations hinder your project – our state-of-the-art fleet is ready to help. With a team of experienced drilling professionals averaging a decade of experience in the field, we’re well-prepared to offer improved sample recovery, less ground disturbance, and faster project outcomes.

Ready to learn more about our mud rotary drilling company and get a free cost estimate? Let’s chat about your next project.