Surveys from Above Give USGS Scientists a New Perspective on Water

The U.S. Geological Survey is working with a helicopter system in Mississippi to gather geophysical information related to the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. The helicopter will be deployed  later this month in several smaller focus areas of interest where a series of high-resolution survey grids will be created.

The USGS began the first phase of airborne geophysical surveys in February 2018 with a series of high-resolution flights near Greenwood, Mississippi, to acquire large-scale airborne geophysical data in support of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (MAP) Regional Water Availability Study. The geophysical instruments used in the study are able to map aquifer properties below ground, to depths of up to about 1,000 feet.

The airborne survey could last through 2022. It will be used to map nearly -r 38,627 square miles, of the surficial Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer system, which includes portions of seven states—Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. A multi-sensor platform featuring electromagnetic, magnetic, and radiometric sensors will be deployed to map the underground aquifer system and deeper hydrogeologic setting.

“The MAP airborne geophysical survey will allow us to develop a high-resolution three-dimensional representation of the groundwater resources for one the most important irrigated agricultural regions in the United States,” said project lead and USGS scientist Wade H. Kress.

As with all USGS data, the information acquired from the airborne surveys will undergo rigorous analysis. The data will then be integrated with groundwater modeling efforts prior to becoming fully available to the public.

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