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Airborne Surveys

Airborne Surveys Track Potential Mineral and Water Resources in Parts of Iowa and Minnesota

U.S. Geological Survey scientists plan to conduct the first comprehensive, high-resolution airborne survey to study the rock layers under a region of northeastern Iowa and southeastern Minnesota, starting December 2012 and lasting through January 2013. When the data analysis is complete, resulting state-of-the-art, 3-D subsurface maps will help USGS researchers improve an assessment of mineral and water resources of the region.

As part of this research, both a low flying airplane and helicopter with auxiliary instrumentation will be used. Residents and visitors should not be alarmed to witness either of these instruments flying low to the ground near the Decorah, Iowa, and Spring Grove, Minn., region.

MRS map and link to larger graphic (3.32 MB)
  Helicopter and link to larger graphic (3.52 MB)
Kola with VTEM

"Modern society is critically dependent on clean water and a vast array of minerals to maintain and enhance our quality of life," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "The USGS uses the latest technology to find new sources of these valuable commodities, even when buried deep beneath the Earth's surface, and places that information in the public domain to benefit all Americans."

The airplane is under contract to the USGS through Bell Geospace; the helicopter through Geotech. The aircrafts will be operated by experienced pilots who are specially trained and approved for low-level flying. All flights are coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure flights are in accordance with U.S. law.

For more information on the Airborne Survey, please visit the USGS Newsroom at

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