Media Advisory: Low-Flying Airplane Mapping Pendleton Area

Release Date:

Editor: In the public interest and in accordance with FAA regulations, the USGS is announcing this low-level airborne project. Your assistance in informing the local communities is appreciated.

Residents should not be alarmed if they see a low-flying airplane over Pendleton and surrounding areas starting around June 8.

For about 45 days, an airplane operated under contract to the U.S. Geological Survey will be making low-level flights over a 5000-square-mile area that includes Pendleton, the Umatilla Indian Reservation and surrounding areas. Anyone observing the low-flying plane should not be alarmed if they see it fly overhead or pass below the horizon. The contractor will be following all guidelines established by the Federal Aviation Administration, and the aircraft will be operated by experienced pilots, specially trained for low-level flying.

The airborne survey is part of a larger USGS project to study geothermal resources and earthquake hazards of the region. It will include ground-based gravity and magnetotelluric measurements and an airborne lidar (high-precision measurements on topographic elevation) survey. The study is being done in cooperation with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. It is part of an ongoing USGS program to identify hidden geologic features, such as changes in rock types, ultimately providing a better understanding of the geology and hydrology of the area. For example, the survey may help map shallow faults possibly associated with the moderate-magnitude earthquake that occurred near Milton-Freewater in 1936.

The airplane is operated by EDCON-PRJ of Lakewood, Colorado, which is working with the FAA to ensure flights are safe and in accordance with U.S. law.

Image: Low-Flying Airplane Maps New Madrid Zone
This airplane is a Cessna-180, specially modified for low-altitude geophysical surveys. The magnetic sensor (magnetometer) is located at the tip of the "stinger" attached to the rear of the airplane. The survey is designed to measure the magnetic field of the earth, which is related to rock formations that lie below the land surface. (Credit: Michael Hobbs, EDCON-PRJ, Inc., Public domain.)