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UW Teams With Denmark University to Map Wyoming Aquifers

A helicopter carries SkyTEM airborne geophysical equipment over a mountain range in Greenland. SkyTEM equipment, provided by Aarhus University in Denmark, will help UW researchers locate watersheds in the Laramie and Snowy ranges during research that will begin either Sept. 10 or 11.
A helicopter carries SkyTEM airborne geophysical equipment over a mountain range in Greenland. SkyTEM equipment, provided by Aarhus University in Denmark, will help UW researchers locate watersheds in the Laramie and Snowy ranges during research that will begin either Sept. 10 or 11.  (Lars Rasmussen)

The University of Wyoming has teamed with Aarhus University in Denmark to aid in the mapping of underground aquifers in the Laramie and Snowy Ranges.

During the past year U-W water researchers have used more than 1-million-dollars worth of new geophysics and hydrology equipment to map groundwater aquifers and have now announced that they will be taking to the air to help complete the study.

A SkyTEM airborne geophysical system, provided by Aarhus University, will be used to collect geophysical measurements in the study areas starting this week.

Steve Holbrook is a professor at UW’s department of Geology and Geophysics as well as the co-director for the Wyoming Center for Hydrology and Geophysics.  He says that the purpose of the project is to understand how water moves through the landscape, and in-and-out of aquifers in the state.  “One of the approaches we’re taking is helicopter based geophysical measurements, ” says Holbrook.  “We have an instrument that looks like a loop of wood, about 80-foot in diameter.  It’s towed below a helicopter, and the helicopter flies a survey that’s back-and-forth, like mowing a lawn, to cover our area of interest.  What it’s measuring is electrical conductivity in the ground and magnetic properties.”

Holbrook says that the measurements will help to map where water is in the survey areas.  “If people see a strange instrument being towed from a low-flying helicopter in the Laramie or Snowy Ranges, over the next week or so, it’s a purely scientific study.  It’ll help us to better understand our water resources.”

Holbrook goes on to say the project has begun a scientific collaboration between the University of Wyoming and Aarhus University, which will include mutual visits among researchers as well as a student exchange.

 

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