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USGS survey of Delaware Bay area for water research

Public Domain
A low-flying helicopter towing a geophysical device collects scientific data on groundwater and geology.

The United States Geological Survey – better known as USGS – along with researchers from the University of Delaware, began part of its a full-scale survey of the Delaware River Basin last week

And chances are, if you live around the Delaware Bay, you may have gotten a close look at the process.

Professor Holly Michael is the Director of the Delaware Environmental Institute at the University of Delaware, and she joined me earlier this week to walk us through the survey and what she hopes to learn from it.

Delaware Public Media's Tom Byrne discusses the USGS survey of the Delaware Bay region with the University of Delaware's Holly Michael

You may see a curious sight flying low over and near the Delaware Bay this month: a helicopter towing a large hoop.

It’s part of the U.S. Geological Survey project analyzing the Delaware River Basin.

That hoop is analyzing groundwater underneath the Bay area to see if it’s freshwater or saltwater.

Civil & Environmental Engineering
Kathy F.Atkinson
Univ. of Delaware
Holly Michael, COE, Civil & Environmental Engineering.

USGS scientists want to know how much salt is in the region’s groundwater, which can affect sea level rise and storm surges.

Holly Michael is the director of the Delaware Environmental Institute at the University of Delaware. She's part of the team analyzing the data.

“So, this will give us the first ever look at where the salt is underground, in 3-D, which will allow us to really manage our water resources better,” Michael said.

Scientists don’t yet know where salt and freshwater meet under the Delaware Bay region.

“(It’s) really important for allowing us to develop robust models that will then allow us to project into the future and to develop sustainable management plans for the future,” Michael said.

The project will map 100 meters or more underground and provide a baseline to see how the region’s groundwater may change in the future.

The survey project began July 8 and could continue into mid-August.

U.S. Geological Survey
Map of U.S. Geological Survey's Delaware Bay survey area

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Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for nearly three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.
Mark Arehart is an award-winning reporter/producer. Before returning to Delaware, Arehart was a reporter for WKSU and Ideastream Public Media in Northeast Ohio. He previously hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He has worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.