Temperature rise during drilling is correlated with hardness of the drilled material.
A method of real-time quantification of the hardness of a rock or similar material involves measurement of the temperature, as a function of time, of the tool bit of an ultrasonic/sonic drill corer (USDC) that is being used to drill into the material. The method is based on the idea that, other things being about equal, the rate of rise of temperature and the maximum temperature reached during drilling increase with the hardness of the drilled material.
The temperature readings from within a USDC tool bit can also be used for purposes other than estimating the hardness of the drilled material. For example, they can be especially useful as feedback to control the driving power to prevent thermal damage to the drilled material, the drill bit, or both. In the case of drilling through ice, the temperature readings could be used as a guide to maintaining sufficient drive power to prevent jamming of the drill by preventing refreezing of melted ice in contact with the drill.