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From on High in India,

Searching for Water Below


An AS350 B3 Ecureuil has been fitted with a 30-meter long probe to discover new sources of underground drinking water in India.



Realizing that India is facing water shortage and that the country’s major water demands are met through groundwater sources, the ministry of water resources launched a pilot project in April 2012 to map aquifers. The project is focusing on finding clean drinking water with the help of airborne technology.

The Minister for Rajasthan and the Minister for Water Resources were present at the launch of a pilot project to map aquifers.

Selected on the basis of soil types and topography, six areas have been identified for the project, including the cities of Nagpur and Jaipur, the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and the district of Patna. This initiative is part of a large-scale effort by the National Project on Aquifer Management, and will cover about 21 million square kilometers. The research work, which began in October 2013, is being performed in conjunction with the Central Ground Water Board and National Geophysical Research Institute and funded by the World Bank.
The helicopter selected for the mission, an Ecureuil AS350 B3 operated by Himalayan Heli Services Pvt Ltd, is fitted with a 30-meter probe that has an enormous, 300-square-meter frame. Electromagnetic currents are sent to the ground through a fiber-optic loop, and the magnetic field thus generated is measured to see the distribution of water. The technology makes it possible to use an antenna suspended below the helicopter to scan the Earth’s uppermost layers to a depth of 200-300 meters. The researchers can then view subterranean groundwater landscapes as 3D images. The helicopter plays an essential role as it is capable of carrying heavy payloads, making the AS350 B3 the ideal choice for this project. Dr. Shakeel Ahmed, chief scientist at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), said: “The main objective of this project is to come up with maps of underground aquifers in different parts of India. This initiative will immensely benefit the country and its people because ground water is being rapidly depleted in many parts of the country. This aquifer system will help us in mapping the groundwater system more efficiently, effectively and accurately.”
The project is also using Danish technology developed at Aarhus University, called SkyTEM, a heliborne system that has proven extremely useful for the largescale mapping of underground water resources in many countries. Suspended beneath the AS350 B3, it is deployed to support the aerial geophysical survey and scans for ground water – a critical resource for human survival.
The helicopter selected for the mission was an AS350 B3 Ecureuil operated by Himalayan Heli Services Pvt Ltd.
The Ecureuil carries a 30-meter probe fitted on a 300-square-meter frame.

The probe measures the generated magnetic field to see the water distribution down to depths of 200-300 meters.

The pilot project has been a great success, as underground water has been detected in several different regions of the country.