State: Don’t be alarmed if you see something strange in the sky
Federal, state and private organizations are working together to improve our knowledge of the geologic framework in the United States. This month, a low-flying helicopter towing a geophysical device will collect scientific data on groundwater and geology. It’s an initiative known as Earth MRI. The goal is to document undiscovered critical mineral supply which may decrease the nation’s reliance on foreign minerals that are fundamental to our security and economy.
The survey data will be collected using a helicopter and will fly over parts of Autauga, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Elmore, Etowah, Jefferson, Lee, Macon, Marshall, Randolph, Russell, St. Clair, Shelby, Talladega, Tallapoosa and Tuscaloosa Counties. Weather permitting, the survey will begin in mid-March.
The helicopter and towed equipment will fly along pre-planned flight paths at around 100 to 200 feet. A sensor resembling a large hula-hoop will be towed under the helicopter to measure small electromagnetic signals.
Data collected as part of this survey is part of a national effort to acquire modern high-resolution electromagnetic data. The new geophysical survey will use the latest technological developments to allow scientists to develop high-resolution three-dimensional representations of geology to depths more than 1,000 feet below the surface.
The 3D models and maps produced from the survey will help scientists understand the distribution of ground-water, mineral and energy resources as well as the potential for natural hazards. Data collected as part of this effort will be made public and used by USGS.
None of the instruments carried on the aircraft pose a health risk to people or animals. The aircraft will be flown by experienced pilots that are specially trained and approved for low-level flying.
The company works with the FAA to ensure flights are safe and in accordance with U.S. law.
The surveys will be conducted during daylight hours, only in rural areas and will not fly directly over buildings.