Feature Articles

Watching from the skies to understand the earth

By Deb Risden

The Upper Black Squirrel Creek Groundwater Management District has confirmed that starting about June 1, a geological and aquifer mapping study, as reported in the March 2023 issue of The New Falcon Herald, will commence. Adverse weather conditions such as rain or wind could impact the scheduled dates. The study is expected to last about one week. 

A helicopter will fly at about 100 to 200 feet above the ground, towing a sensor that looks like a large hula-hoop. The sensor will measure electromagnetic signals used to map features below the Earth’s surface. Dave Doran, president of the UBSC, said the helicopter will not fly directly over buildings but will be easily viewed by many. The route will cover about 1,250 miles over the Upper Black Squirrel Ground Water Basin. The boundaries are generally south of Squirrel Creek up to Highway 24 in Peyton; the east boundaries are jogging in and out east of Ellicott Highway all the way down to Squirrel Creek Road. 

The sensor can see about 1,200 feet below ground and will provide a 3-D view of the geology and available water. “It is a valuable tool for us to connect the dots and be able to have a better understanding of the underground geohydrology,” Doran said. “The only way we have to look now is through the wells that have been drilled.” Drilling provides a look at what is happening underground at given points, but the AEM will provide a view of the geology between those points. 

AEM will help find areas of depletion, areas where there is no water and areas that will accept recharge. “It helps us when looking at future land use. It tells us if a location is good to put in a well. It will help us find ways to better manage our water and find locations that will accept recharge,” Doran said. “It’s high on the management district’s agenda to identify all the locations where we could maybe help the aquifer(s) to have a longer life. Geology is the key role to doing artificial recharge.” Doran said there are states and countries around the world that are looking at depleted aquifers and solutions for recharge. “We know if we can find a water source that is of good enough quality and then find the geology to be able to get it into the ground, we are able to recharge that aquifer. It’s been done successfully in many areas of the country.”

AEM Project photo May 2023

The AEM study will be conducted by Aqua Geo Frameworks, a Wyoming company. SkyTEM will run the survey using Livewire Aviation pilots who are trained for low-level flying.  

The UBSC is fully funding the project.

“This study will help everybody in the area,” Doran said. “If we have the data and the facts, we all are in a better position to make good decisions.”

The UBSC website,, will have updated information about the process, schedule and geographic boundaries.

AEM Caption: The AEM apparatus and helicopter will fly over about 1,250 miles and produce a 3-D view of the geology

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Weather Cams by StratusIQ

Search Advertisers