Why a helicopter with giant antenna is flying over south west France

A survey is being carried out by air as part of a research project to investigate groundwater reservoirs in Nouvelle Aquitaine

7 September 2021

Helicopter with giant antenna Pic: Bureau des Recherches Géologiques et Minières

By Ellie Fullalove

A research project has been launched to gain insight into groundwater reservoirs northeast of the Aquitaine Basin.

It will see a helicopter – equipped with a hexagonal antenna 20m in diameter – flying over an area 40km wide and almost 200km long, using geophysics to locate water reserves.

The flight path in Dordogne starts south of Angoulême (Charente) and continues towards Périgueux, then goes from Sarlat to Agen (Lot-et-Garonne). 

This part of the project involving the BRGM Geological and Mining Research Office is expected to take 2-3 weeks to complete over the course of this month, dependent on weather conditions.

In the Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne, Lot and Charente, groundwater represents more than half of the total water consumption by people, farming and industry.

It also has an important role to play in keeping streams flowing. However, this resource may be depleted in certain areas or at certain times and this is likely to worsen due to climate change. 

The communities concerned have decided to launch a vast research programme led by the BRGM to try and avoid future conflicts of use and to better manage this resource.

The data obtained will allow geophysicists to determine the contours of geological layers and demarcate groundwater tables up to 400 meters underground. 

The project is called Eaux-SCARS.

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