FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. — People in the Wet Mountains and Wet Mountain Valley in Fremont and Custer counties may notice a helicopter flying low over the area this summer.
The helicopter is being used by the U.S. Geological Survey to explore the geology of the area, both on the surface and below ground. It’s part of the USGS Earth MRI project to better understand the geology and natural resources in the area.
The helicopter will fly at an altitude of 300 to 1,000 feet above ground. Experienced pilots who are specially trained and approved for low-level flying will operate it. All flights will be during daylight hours and are coordinated with the FAA.
The flights will be based out of Fremont County airport near Cañon City, covering parts of the Wet Mountains and Wet Mountain Valley in Fremont and Custer Counties, including the town of Westcliffe.
The flights will begin around June 4 and may last until the end of August, according to the USGS.
The helicopter is a Sander Geophysics Limited helicopter with a “stinger” mounted to the underside of the cabin to sense the Earth’s magnetic field. Instruments on the aircraft 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.
The information gathered will help researchers develop geologic maps of the area that will be used to better understand the geology and mineral resources in the region.
The scientific instruments are completely passive with no emissions that pose a risk to humans, animals, or plant life, according to the USGS.