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Interlocking Split Spoon Sampler

Interlocking Split Spoon Sampler

Frozen. Everything. Everywhere. A common challenge in Alaska where the geology is interesting – to say the least – with glacial till and large cobbles. But the tough terra firma was no deterrent for the Geoprobe® 2-inch interlocking split spoon. In fact, Discovery Drilling – who employs 20 individuals and has drill rigs working in virtually every corner of the state – found them to be “vastly superior to the legacy samplers for sampling frozen ground.”

“It’s what goes on above ground that really matters. Any split spoon can be driven into the subsurface to collect a sample, but it’s the ease of use that separates Geoprobe’s interlocking split spoons from ‘Brand-X’,” DJ Wardwell, operations manager, said. “The interlocking splits, combined with the excellent thread pattern on the shoe and drive head, make it just so easy to assemble and disassemble. That ease of use is where the real value of these new samplers lies, and like anything Geoprobe® makes, they can handle the intense stress that we routinely put on them.”


After just a few uses of the 2-inch interlocking split spoon, Discovery was convinced they needed the new design in a 3-inch version to satisfy their sample hungry clients. In their market, 80% or more of the geotechnical jobs – where split spoon sampling and blow counts are required – are conducted by advancing a 3-inch split spoon with a 340-lb. drop hammer. With this customer feedback in hand, Geoprobe® tooling engineers set out to meet their need and then let Discovery put them to the test.

“We’ve conducted several projects so far with the new 3-inch spoons…We’ve sampled geology where the spoons would have to endure 100 blows with the 340-lb. hammer to barely achieve six inches of penetration, and they come out of the ground still maintaining their integrity,” Wardwell said. “And most importantly, they are hardy enough where even after that kind of punishment, they still assemble and disassemble vastly easier than the legacy samplers we were used to.”


The 3-inch splits pictured have logged more than 1,000 feet in the Alaskan geology and are still in like new condition. No bulging barrels.

“We’ve yet to damage a set of splits, and on the traditional ones those usually are the first to go,” Keeter Brown, partner, said. “We used to have to buy a ton of the legacy style, but these are a total game changer.”

The shoes shown were just pulled from a job site after being driven to refusal on bedrock (30 to 50 blows with the 340-lb. auto drop hammer) in two, 35-foot borings. Blow counts were in the 20-40 range per 6 inches throughout the borehole sampling every 2.5 to 10 feet, and then every 5 feet thereafter to refusal around 35 feet in total depth. The shoes look to be in fantastic shape even after multiple bedrock refusal drives. 


Depending on the type of work, Discovery clients often choose to open and close the split spoons themselves to assist with production. On a recent job, upon opening her first interlocking split spoon, a geologist Wardwell works with exclaimed, “my wrists want to know where you have been all my life.”

“We’ve received nothing but positive feedback concerning the sampler’s robust and economical design. It just works, and really well,” Wardwell said. “We’ve had a couple instances of clients specifically requesting – demanding even – that we bring the new interlocking spoons, as they are so much easier to manage in the field.”

One client who Discovery has worked with for more than 15 years had historically always requested a three-man crew when the job required samplers because he didn’t want to have to mess with them himself. Now he’s changed his tune.

“He now tells us ‘if you give me those new samplers, you don’t have to send a third man’,” Brown said.


While Discovery hasn’t yet sampled permafrost with the new 3-inch interlocking split spoon, they expect the results to match those of the 2-inch version – because it’s Geoprobe®.

“Everything they supply us with is backed by a large team of engineers and industry experts, and if something is not working as intended, we know that calling Geoprobe® for support is always going to be a pleasant and efficient experience,” Wardwell said. “Whether calling for machine service, a tooling order, help with Direct Image®, or just to get assistance with troubleshooting a problem that we can’t quite wrap our heads around, the Geoprobe® team is always there to enthusiastically assist us.”

This ethic of customer support was exemplified by Geoprobe® President Tom Christy when he spent a Saturday running a part to the airport in Kansas City to help get Discovery out of a bind. So while Discovery finds Geoprobe’s tools and machines to be exceptional, for them the customer support Geoprobe® provides sets the company apart.

“Their industry unparalleled customer support backs up the quality products they supply us with, and we feel like a (very) extended part of their family,” Wardwell said. “They’ve really helped us evolve as a drilling company. Geoprobe’s machines are the pride of our fleet and are used to accomplish upwards of 70% of our workload. Whether it be advancements in drilling technology, new tooling or drill rigs, or in situ logging technologies like OIHPT or CPT, Geoprobe® has been our go-to source for advancements in drilling operations.”

*Split tube soil sampling system manufactured under U.S. Patent 9,551,188

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Phone: (785) 825-1842

Interlocking Split Spoon Overview