Some Considerations for Excavation in Martian Aquifers


This study evaluated the effect of water saturation on the behavior of porous rock during mechanical excavation, such as drilling. Such understanding will increase the ability to design robust and flexible tools for drilling in liquid-water aquifers in the martian shallow crust. This capability will be crucial to sustaining the exploration of Mars, and ultimately of other places where liquid water occurs near the surface. The experiment controlled speed of indentation of the rock (by an indenter of a typical shape for drill bits), and the state of saturation of the rock samples. The indentation speeds were expected to bracket the threshold between drained and undrained conditions. Specific energy of indentation increased with saturation during high-speed indentation, but no other experimental parameters gave clear results. Further tests are needed.

Meeting Name

14th Biennial International Conference on Engineering, Science, Construction, and Operations in Challenging Environments: Engineering for Extreme Environments, Earth and Space (2014: Oct. 27-29, St. Louis, MO)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Aquifers; Earth (planet); Excavation; Hydrogeology; Effect of water; Experimental parameters; Flexible tool; Liquid water; Porous rocks; Shallow crust; Specific energy; Undrained conditions; Rock drilling

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2014 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Oct 2014