US Geological Survey Conducts Aerial Exam of Central Wyoming
A helicopter will perform an airborne geophysical survey during the next four months to understand the regional geology of central Wyoming and potential mineral resources, according to a press release from the Natrona County Emergency Management on Monday
The survey, conducted by the Wyoming Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey, will cover 3,300 square miles and focus near South Pass at the southern end of the Wind River Range and on the Granite Mountains west of Pathfinder Reservoir.
The survey may reveal resources for securing a reliable and sustainable supply of minerals essential for powering household appliances and electronics to clean energy technologies like batteries and wind turbines, according to a joint press release from the USGS and the Wyoming Geological Survey.
“I’m looking forward to this project because the magnetic and radiometric data collected on this airborne survey will improve our understanding of the region’s geologic history, its mineral potential, and its earthquake-related hazards,” USGS lead researcher Dr. Ben Drenth said.
The survey will collect magnetic and radiometric data retrieved from as much as several miles below the surface.
Magnetic data can be used to identify ancient faults, compositional differences in adjacent rocks, and other geologic features.
The radiometric data indicate the relative amounts of potassium, uranium, and thorium in shallow rocks and soil.
Potential critical mineral commodities include aluminum, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, bismuth, chromium, cobalt, fluorspar, gallium, germanium, graphite, hafnium, indium, manganese, niobium, nickel, platinum group elements, rare earth elements, scandium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, zinc, and zirconium.
The specially trained pilots with low-level experience will fly the helicopter along pre-planned flight paths at more than 300 feet above the surface. The ground clearance will be increased to about 1,000 feet over populated areas to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Flight line separation will be more than 600 feet throughout the survey area.
The surveys will be conducted during daylight hours only.
The scientific instruments on the helicopter are completely passive with no emissions that pose a risk to humans, animals, or plant life.
No photography or video data will be collected. The data collected will be made freely available to the public once complete.
Local first responder authorities are aware of the survey, so please do not contact dispatch regarding the aircraft.