Drilling rigs can be massive structures housing equipment used to drill water wells, oil wells, or natural gas extraction wells, or they can be small enough to be moved manually by one person and are called augers. Drilling rigs can sample sub-surface mineral deposits, test rock, soil and groundwater physical properties, and also can be used to install sub-surface fabrications, such as underground utilities, instrumentation, tunnels or wells.
Small to medium-sized drilling rigs are mobile, such as those used in mineral exploration drilling, blast-hole, water wells and environmental investigations. Larger rigs are capable of drilling through thousands of metres of the Earth's crust, using large "mud pumps" to circulate drilling mud (slurry) through the drill bit and up the casing annulus, for cooling and removing the "cuttings" while a well is drilled. Hoists in the rig can lift hundreds of tons of pipe.