Drilling missions will involve extracting two or three full ice cores from each glacier:
  • One for analysis to provide a detailed database of geochemical information currently accessible on the ice cores, which will be made available to the international community. Primarily, these tests will allow us to determine the age of the ice based on the depth and locate particular events in the environmental history of the region being studied
  • One or two for archiving
The missions will require great care and skill. For example:
  • 20 days in the field for six scientists on the Col du Dôme at an altitude of 4,350 m (14,270 ft) with rotation by helicopter
  • 50 days in the field for eight scientists on Illimani at an altitude of 6,432 m (21,100 ft) with local guides and porters
The ice cores are extracted using technology developed in both Grenoble and international laboratories, each one measuring over 130 m in length.

An extremely strict cold chain will be established from the glaciers to the storage location in Antarctica. This means carrying them down from the glaciers in specially insulated boxes and transporting them by ship to Grenoble before continuing on to Antarctica.

The first drilling operations involving France and/or Italy, as well as other crew members from other countries such as Russia, the United States, Bolivia and Brazil, are therefore planned for 2016 and 2017:

Analysis of the ice

One ice core from each site serving a scientific purpose will be analysed to build an initial database required for optimum use of the archives. This database will be made available and shared with the entire international community.

Glaciological database: measurements taken during the coring mission, including surface and bedrock topography of the site, flow dynamics and temperature profiles.

Analyses of a portion of the ice core: aerosol chemistry, insoluble dust, stable isotopes of water, black carbon, radioactive tracers, traces of gas trapped in the ice, etc.