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The USGS Water Science School

Drill rig on a truck, USGS Water Science School

Truck-mounted drill rig for drilling a well.You may think this is a picture of a dirty old truck... but actually this is a modern, high-tech piece of equipment that uses an ancient methodology to drill a well! The drilling being done here is using a "cable tool" to drill through earth and rock. The bit head is at the end of a flexible cable and as the drill gets further down in the rock more cable is played out.

Another method of well drilling uses a drill head (the "bit") at the end of a metal tube. The bit starts drilling a hole in the ground by either chewing or smashing the rock. As the bit chews more and more rock, more piping is added, creating a very long metal tube with the drill bit at the end. Wells more than 1,000 feet deep can be dug using this method.

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