Sonic Drilling

How does Sonic Drilling work

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Sonic Drilling Technology

Sonic drilling is a soil penetration technique that strongly reduces friction on the drill string and drill bit due to liquefaction, inertia effects and temporary reduction of porosity of the soil. The combination makes penetrating for a large range of soils easy for our Sonic rigs and tooling. The penetration rates in most bedrock are faster with this technology also.

Sonic vibration is generated within Eijkelkamp-SonicSampDrill Head.

The oscillator within the drill head generates a high-frequency, resonant energy which is directed down into the drill string. During drilling the resonant energy is combined with rotational movement. This evenly distributes the energy which impacts the drill bit and drill string of tooling. The drill operator can control the amount of sonic vibration the drill head generates to match the force needed to optimally penetrate the soil and bedrock formations.

Sonic Mechanics

When you engage the Eijkelkamp SonicSampDrill drill head, the entire drill string is brought to a vibration frequency of up to 150 Hz. This causes a very thin zone that directly surrounding the drill string and bit to lose structure. This reduces the friction of the soil and drill cuttings to become fluid and be able to be flushed or removed from the bore hole with ease.

The vibrations of the drill bit cause the soil to lose structure which changes density and porosity. This way the soil & cuttings move in the sample barrel and up the drill string to help the tooling advance freely.

The liquefaction and inertia effects enable you to collect long and continuous samples. Due to the vertical high-frequency movement the drill string stays extremely straight with very little deflection.

Less power, fewer problems

Because of the reduced friction on the length of the drill string, sonic drilling needs less power to achieve the same effect as conventional drilling. This unique characteristic of sonic drilling prevents torsional forces on the drill string.  Another benefit of applying sonic high frequency is the ease of retrieving the drill string, even in quick expanding clays or boulders and difficult conditions. All the drilling rods, casings and tooling are pulled faster and easier.

Sonic drilling is clean drilling

There are situations where you want to avoid the usage of drilling mud, air or even water while drilling. Sonic drilling does not necessarily require air or drilling mud while drilling. This makes sonic drilling the preferred method for geotechnical, geo-construction and environmental applications. Also there are special projects where sonic drilling can and has run dry in overburden conditions.

Environmental projects can realize significant cost savings using the Eijkelkamp SonicSampDrill drilling method. These types of projects can require a substantial amount of time and consequently money, in order to properly dispose of investigation derived waste.

In a mining project, specifically a leach pad, adding water or air is a disturbance and can influence the mechanical properties of the soil. In extreme cases it can cause erosion which could lead to a failure such as a partial landslide.

Eijkelkamp SonicSampDrill Drill Rigs & Tooling are the best drilling technique for most overburden conditions.

Where conventional drilling methods chronically struggle to obtain a continuous core sample in unconsolidated formations. SonicSampDrill drill rigs & tooling excel in penetrating soft, mixed , hard and all other types of overburdens. Also providing highly undisturbed samples with a excellent track record of recovery.

The Sonic Rig & tooling diversity 

SmallRotoSonic    CompactRotoSonic     MidRotoSonic    LargeRotoSonic   Used Sonic Drilling Rigs     Sonic tooling



Overview Sonic
Typical depth 
m / ft


Torque clockwise
/counter clockwise


Torque clockwise
/counter clockwise


SmallRotoSonic (SRS)
type 22 K

50/116 m/ft

10 ton / 22 K lb 150Hz


R 1,7 kNm
L 2,0 kNm


R 1,2 kNm
L 1,4 kNm


CompactRotoSonic (CRS)
type 31 K

100/330 m/ft

10 ton / 22 K lb 150Hz


R 2,5 kNm
L 2,8 kNm


R 1,7 kNm
L 2,0 kNm


MidRotoSonic (MRS)
type 50 K

225/740 m/ft 23 ton / 50 K lb 150 Hz

180 / 190

R 3,9/1,8 kNm
L 4,6/2,3 kNm


R 3,9/1,8 kNm
L 4,6/2,3bkNm


LargeRotoSonic (LRS)
type 50 K

400/1300 m/ft 23 ton / 50 K lb 150 Hz


R 7,1 kNm
L 9,5 kNm

R 7,1 kNm
L 9,5 kNm



What makes Sonic so valuable?

  • It is highly efficient with, in alluvial material, extremely fast penetration speeds
  • AquaLock sampler for either continuous or discrete sampling
  • Numerous types of CoreBarrel samplers can be applied
  • In RotoSonic versions also for rock fracturing, concrete penetration and high density layers
  • Exceptional power output and tooling penetration in a small, light-weight rig
  • Can be used at severely polluted sites; very limited smearing
  • Takes high quality samples in dry and saturated soil layers
  • Lost cones / bits for well installations, cold-heat exchange systems or seismic explorations
  • Pre-pack monitoring wells with pre-shaped bentonite collars or BentoBlocks; no grouting
  • Sonic vibrations can be used for casing retrieval too; no stuck casing
  • Low noise compared to hammering with probe rigs
  • Less wear and tear of casing threads compared to hammering
  • Tiltable drill head for easy handling of samplers


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How does Sonic Drilling work

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