Excavation beam

From Halopedia, the Halo wiki

Sinaris-pattern heavy destroyers glassing Harvest in 2525 with their Infernus-pattern excavation beams.

"If I were Fleet, I'd be asking them to add a ventral beam or three to Infinity."
Evan Phillips[1]

Excavation beams,[2] sometimes referred to as cleansing beams,[3][4][5] are a sub-classification of energy projector developed and employed by the Covenant aboard the empire's starships.[2] Excavation beams are often referred to colloquially as ventral beams due to their placement aboard spacecraft; their primary function is that of glassing and excavation work, meaning that they are fitted on the ships' ventral surfaces to point downward at a planetary target on the ground.[4]

Excavation beams are broadly similar to plasma lances (and their smaller counterpart plasma beam emitters) in operation, though are very different in use. Where the latter examples are used as anti-warship weapons for use in space warfare, excavation beams serve more as a utility tool for unearthing hidden Forerunner artefacts buried below the ground or for performing orbital bombardment on hostile positions.[2]


A fleet of Covenant ships using their excavation beams to unearth the Portal at Voi.

Excavation beams consist of massive plasma generators combined with focusing arrays that are capable of channelling the entire output of a ship's pinch fusion reactor into a single fount of energy.[2]

The operators of excavation beams treat their work as an art, carefully manipulating the magnetic fields and plasma output to their needs.[6] This can allow the beams to be used to delicately unearth buried Forerunner artefacts, burn sigils into a planet's crust, or completely sterilise the ground by bombarding the surface with such heat and intensity that the ground is melted into glass. This process is termed "glassing", and was one of the foremost symbols of Covenant destruction during the Human-Covenant War. Despite appearing to be an act of senseless destruction, the Covenant treat this as a statement of religious conviction and of military expediency.[2]


A Covenant fleet using their excavation beams to carve the glyph for "Faith" into the surface of Kholo.

Excavation beams are predominantly fitted aboard the Covenant's capital ships, with all but the absolute-largest supercarriers equipping only one such weapon due to their size and scope. They are a standard fitting on Covenant cruisers, Covenant carriers and Covenant destroyers, with the destroyers serving in effect as dedicated platforms to host excavation beams and initiate the Covenant's scorched earth policy against consecrated worlds.[7] Despite being much smaller, they mount excavation beam models identical to the larger assault carriers, with the front third of the Sinaris-pattern dominated by the excavation beam and the enormous reactor needed to support it.[6] Due to their near-sole focus on destructive energy (both with their excavation beams and their other regular anti-ship weapons), destroyers are classed as part of the executioner category of vessels - considered a dishonourable assignment and kept at arm's length by High Charity.[8][6]

The flame-bore utilised by the Banished in their excavation platforms is capable of outputting plasma at levels similar to those of a capital-grade excavation beam, albeit on a smaller scale. They use these tools to dig through rock and metal, and have notably used them to mine through Installation 07's superstructure during the Battle for Zeta Halo.[9]


Superheavy excavation beams[edit]

Elseon-pattern superheavy excavation beam
Infernus-pattern superheavy excavation beam
Lux-pattern superheavy excavation beam

Excavation beams[edit]

Excellen-pattern excavation beam
Phar-pattern excavation beam
Pherex-pattern excavation beam
Profero-pattern excavation beam


  1. ^ Halo: Mortal Dictata, chapter 3
  2. ^ a b c d e Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 261
  3. ^ Halo Wars, Cleansing Beam in-game leader power
  4. ^ a b Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 28
  5. ^ Halo Mythos, page 151
  6. ^ a b c d Halo: Warfleet, page 60-61
  7. ^ Halo Waypoint, Covenant Destroyer (Retrieved on Jun 30, 2022) [archive]
  8. ^ a b c Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 266-267
  9. ^ Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 441
  10. ^ a b Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 270-271
  11. ^ a b c Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 262-263
  12. ^ Halo: Warfleet, page 70-71
  13. ^ a b c Halo Encyclopedia (2022 edition), page 264-265
  14. ^ Halo: Warfleet, page 76-77
  15. ^ Halo: Warfleet, page 78-79
  16. ^ Halo: Warfleet, page 62-63