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USGS to start flights over Pennsylvania to survey local geology

A plane and helicopter will fly low to the ground as USGS surveys the geology of part of Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia.

LANCASTER, Pa. — A low-flying airplane or helicopter will be visible as early as this weekend as the United States Geological Survey (USGS) launches a new survey of parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. 

In Pennsylvania, parts of Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York Counties will be surveyed, among others.

The aircraft will hold sensors that passively measure Earth’s magnetic field according to Anji Shah, lead scientist on the project and Research Geophysicist at USGS.

“It’s kind of like doing a sonogram or an MRI of the Earth and seeing what’s underground," Shah told FOX43. "So with that, we can map things like faults. We can map ancient magma bodies. We can map a number of different things.”

Other applications of the data they collect include understanding the mineral resources of the area and learning more about water resources and geothermal energy.

This is the first time in 45 years that a survey like this has been conducted.

“Now we’re getting much better resolution. We’re getting modernized sensors. We have modernized processing. We actually have GPS so we know where we are. It will be a big difference in data quality," said Shah.

Funding for this survey was made possible via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It will take a few months for the entire survey area to be completed.

Shah tells FOX43 she’s excited to have this high-resolution data. 

“There’s so much that we don’t know about the Earth that we can learn by understanding what’s underneath the ground," she said.

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