Loss of fluids and samples during retrieval of cores of saturated, noncohesive sediments results in incorrect measures of fluid distributions and an inaccurate measure of the stratigraphic position of the sample. To reduce these errors, we developed a hollow drive shoe that freezes in place the lowest 3 inches (75 mm) of a 1.88-inch-diameter (48 mm), 5-foot-long (1.5 m) sediment sample taken using a commercial wire line piston core sampler. The end of the core is frozen by piping liquid carbon dioxide at ambient temperature through a steel tube from a bottle at the land surface to the drive shoe where it evaporates and expands, cooling the interior surface of the shoe to about -109??F (-78??C). Freezing a core end takes about 10 minutes. The device was used to collect samples for a study of oil-water-air distributions, and for studies of water chemistry and microbial activity in unconsolidated sediments at the site of an oil spill near Bemidji, Minnesota. Before freezing was employed, samples of sandy sediments from near the water table sometimes flowed out of the core barrel as the sampler was withdrawn. Freezing the bottom of the core allowed for the retention of all material that entered the core barrel and lessened the redistribution of fluids within the core. The device is useful in the unsaturated and shallow saturated zones, but does not freeze cores well at depths greater than about 20 feet (6 m) below water, possibly because the feed tube plugs with dry ice with increased exhaust back-pressure, or because sediment enters the annulus between the core barrel and the core barrel liner and blocks the exhaust.
Additional publication details
A sample-freezing drive shoe for a wire line piston core sampler