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USGS to Conduct Low-Level Flights in Virginia

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey will be conducting low-level flights in central and southern Virginia to image geology at the surface and below ground as part of the Earth MRI project.  Earth MRI is designed to help better understand the geology, natural resources and earthquake hazards in the area. Virginians may see or hear the low-flying airplane starting this week through May.

Instruments on the airplane will measure variations in the Earth’s magnetic field and natural low-level radiation created by different rock types near and up to several miles beneath the surface.  This information will help researchers develop geologic maps of the area that will be used to better understand sand resources and underground faults in the region.  The scientific instruments on the airplane are completely passive with no emissions that pose a risk to humans, animals or plant life, according to the USGS.

The survey flights will be flown at an altitude of 300 feet to 1,000 feet above ground by contractor EON Geosciences.  Experienced pilots who are specially trained and approved for low-level flying will operate the aircraft, according to the USGS.  All flights will occur during daylight hours and are coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure accordance with U.S. law.  The flights will be based out of Dinwiddie County Airport in Virginia and Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport in North Carolina.

The airplane will fly over parts of Amelia, Brunswick, Caroline, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Emporia, Goochland, Greensville, Hanover, Henrico, Louisa, Nottoway, Powhatan, Prince George, Southampton and Sussex counties along with the cities of Richmond, Colonial Heights, Emporia, Hopewell and Petersburg.