What is Sonic Drilling?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Sonic drilling is a drilling technique that incorporates the use of high frequency vibrations to facilitate the drilling process. Sonic drills can penetrate very quickly and cope with a wide variety of substrates and formations. Some drilling companies offer sonic drilling services to their customers and it is also possible to purchase drilling rigs, for companies with a regular need for this type of technology. Costs for this service and the equipment vary, depending on the equipment, the environment, and the specific needs of the situation.


In sonic drilling, an operator selects a frequency on the basis of the material being drilled and the need, and activates the sonic component of the drilling rig. The rig sends vibrations down the drill head, causing the soil or rock in the immediate vicinity of the drill head to liquefy. This reduces friction, allowing people to drill much more quickly than they can with conventional drilling rigs, and permitting people to drill in adverse conditions that would be challenging with a regular drill head.

For core sampling, sonic drilling can be a highly effective tool allowing for the collection of very large continuous core samples. The vibrations can be directed down a core sampling drill head to cut out a neat core sample very quickly from an area under investigation. Since it is often necessary to take a myriad of core samples to collect accurate data, the ability to quickly pull samples can save time and money for the company ordering the drilling.

This drilling technology also generates less waste, including toxic waste. Lubricants like drilling mud are not needed and less waste material is thrown up around the drill head. For cost savings, reduction of waste can be very beneficial. Sites can be easier to manage with a sonic drilling rig, and people can reduce the environmental impact of drilling by using such a rig.

Drilling companies with a sonic rig can inspect a site to determine if it is a good candidate for sonic drilling. After a site inspection, quotes can be offered to give people an idea of the prices for various drilling options. Companies interested in purchasing a sonic drill for internal use can work with a representative of the manufacturer to identify potential uses for the drill and determine an appropriate model for purchase. Most companies make a lineup of different models and it is important to select one with the necessary specifications.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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