Surveying the Delaware Bay

DELAWARE BAY, Del.- Today the United States Geological Survey (USGS) launched a demonstration of what will be a study over the next few days of the Delaware Bay using a helicopter carrying an electromagnetic sensor.

The sensor is designed by SkyTEM to survey the amount of salt water coming inland. This is the first time this technology is being used in Delaware and is part of a nationwide study.

Burke Minsley, Research Geophysicist for USGS, explained how the instrument, " -induces small currents in the ground that generates secondary fields that we can measure in the helicopter. It's sort of like a metal detector that people use on the beach to find coins. We use that to map geology and ground water salinity underground."

The survey is expected to help address issues for the shoreline.

Coordinator for Next Generation Water Observing Systems, Douglas Burns, described such concerns, "One is that sea level is rising and so with time we expect that the salt water is going to protrude further into the subsurface, further inland with time, and there's evidence now that the intensity of storms is increasing over time and that also bring salt water inland as well."

However studies like this have already taken place, just not on such a large scale.

Director and State Geologist, David Wunsch, said, "We'll collect water samples and we can determine if the water is getting salty or not, but there's a lot of areas between those wells which might be, you know, ten miles apart that we have no idea what's going on. Cause salt water, for example, moving underground may not move in a straight line, it can have a kind of irregular shape, and so this survey can fill a lot of the holes."

After creating a baseline of data for this study, scientists and participants hope to return in a few years to see how their data has changed since, to better predict the water's patterns.

For questions and information, contact DGS at, 302-831-2833