Hi-tech, high-flying prospector searches for minerals, data

Virginia City residents may have looked up at this week's blue skies and spotted a low flying plane moving in a search pattern.

The plane is operated by Goldak Exploration employees, based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, who are collecting data for the U.S. Geological Survey.

The survey plane took off from the Carson City Airport on Wednesday morning.

"It has fancy metal detectors that pick up magnetic signatures," said Goldak airborne geophysical technician Peter Moore. "Each rock type has its own magnetic signatures."

So by flying over land with the detectors, instruments on the plane can identify where mineral deposits might be found, said Moore. He is processing the data collected while he is in Carson City this week.

The airborne detectors find data that would allow hydrologists to determine likely locations of underground water sources, Moore said.

"The radar on the plane also collects data to make topographic maps," he said.

The data includes geological information, which all goes to the U.S. government.

Similar flights by the Goldak plane have collected similar information in Oregon and California.

The Goldak plane is also making flights over Carson City and Lyon and Washoe counties this week.

Geological Survey spokeswoman Heidi Koehler Koontz said the Nevada project will cost about $10,000.


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