MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Northeast Wisconsin will have airborne electromagnetic technology (AEM) used to provide data regarding below-ground properties.

According to a release, through a partnership with multiple state and federal agencies, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will use AEM technology to measure the depth to bedrock in areas of northeastern Wisconsin.

A low-flying helicopter will tow a magnetic sensor that will provide accurate data about below ground properties to update depth to bedrock maps. Knowing how deep the soil is before reaching bedrock is key to understanding how to protect groundwater from potential pollutants applied on the surface.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is leading the project, with collaboration from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS), and DATCP.

“This project will update our maps and help landowners better understand how surface applications of certain materials can impact groundwater quality. Protecting Wisconsin’s groundwater is essential to public health and to the state’s economy. We all rely on clean groundwater for drinking, irrigating crops, watering livestock, and processing foods,” says Sara Walling, Administrator of DATCP’s Division of Agricultural Resource Management.

DATCP anticipates surveying to begin in early Jan., with the helicopter flying over the following counties: Brown, Calumet, Door, Fond du Lac, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, and Sheboygan.

According to a release, the project focuses on several counties with Silurian bedrock. Silurian bedrock is composed of highly fractured dolomite that allows materials to pass through it more easily to reach groundwater quicker.

The project will reduce the financial burden on private landowners to verify existing maps, and produce data that will enhance the understanding of below-ground properties in order to improve groundwater quality.

Results of the survey will be made public once available. 

By