Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way: Treacherous Terrain Tests The Skills Of An Arkansas Contractor

May 2013, Vol. 68 No. 5

Bordered by fields, farmsteads, bluffs and canyons, the majority of the 59-mile-long Cadron Creek lies out of sight, quietly nestled more than 140 feet below the horizon. While the rocky shoals and rugged bluffs on each side create spectacular scenery for paddlers, the sharp drop and subsequent steep incline in elevation from the drill’s launch site -- necessary to hit the exit target -- wasn’t all that pretty of a picture for Cline.

“What really made the bore difficult was the elevation change created by the creek,” Cline says. “The drill plan required the depth of the bore to drop quickly within a relatively short distance to make the underground creek crossing, followed by a sharp 110-foot incline to make the target. Also, keep in mind this was one continuous bore through multiple layers of hard rock and in a dense forest. It was a very complicated job.”

Challenge No. 2 — the rock

Drilling through solid rock is one thing; drilling through varying layers of solid rock with areas of void in-between the layers is something altogether different. Having encountered layered rock formations previously, Cline and crew knew how to best prepare.

“The rock here consists of hundreds of layers of different types and varying densities,” Cline says. “To further complicate the situation, there are voids, cracks and spaces between the solid rock layers. Few drilling conditions are as unpredictable as boring through Arkansas rock.

“Cement is the remedy,” Cline says. “Once you start losing an extraordinary amount of drilling fluid, you know you’re drilling through a void. Pumping cement into the area fills the void. After the cement sets up and hardens, it functions like soft rock and drilling can continue. The cement prohibits additional drilling fluid from escaping.”

This was the fourth jobsite where Cline’s crews were required to pump cement into the void between rock layers to better secure the bore path and restrict the loss of drilling fluid. It was the first occasion, however, where it was necessary to add cement at four different points.

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