AEM Flights planned for Buffalo County

Residents of northern Buffalo County may notice an unusual sight in the skies in mid October, a low-altitude helicopter towing a large hexagonal frame flying over their area. Officials at the Lower Loup Natural Resources District (LLNRD) say this unique equipment is simply part of a project to map groundwater aquifers and subsurface geology in the district.

Instruments mounted below the helicopter will collect and record geologic measurements to learn more about buried sand and gravel aquifers.  The LLNRD planned the flights with supplemental sponsorship from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NDNR).

According to Cam Conrad, water modeling coordinator for the LLNRD, data from the flights will improve understanding of the available groundwater resource and potential groundwater/surface water connections in this area of the state.

Aqua Geo Frameworks, LLC (AGF) is overseeing the flights, processing the data and information, and will produce a final report. Conrad stated that this technology allows for fast data acquisition, upwards of 50 miles per hour, with detailed information down to 600 feet below the land surface from the air.

 

The helicopter will fly over the northern portion of Buffalo County in the LLNRD.  Scientific equipment is towed about 100 feet below the helicopter in a ’spider web’ array and is designed to map geologic structures beneath the earth. Conrad said that the helicopter is manned by experienced pilots who are specially trained for low-level flying with this equipment. The FAA does not allow this type of equipment to be flown over any feeding operation or residence, so homes and feedlots are avoided at all costs.

This scientific program is designed to study the area’s water resources such as sand and gravel aquifers using an aerial perspective.  It is part of an ongoing program of the LLNRD to identify physical occurrences such as changes in geologic materials and sediment types. If you have any questions or request additional information, contact Conrad at the Lower Loup NRD, 308-728-3221 or cconrad@llnrd.org.