WARRENTON — A low-flying airplane will soon be visible to residents in southern Virginia and northern North Carolina beginning in mid-January and lasting potentially through May 2021.

The low-level flights are coordinated by U.S. Geological Survey scientists to image geology at the surface and below ground. The effort is part of the USGS Earth MRI project to help in better understanding the geology, natural resources and earthquake hazards in the area.

Instruments on the airplane will measure variations in the Earth’s magnetic field and natural low-level radiation created by different rock types near and up to several miles beneath the surface. This information will help researchers develop geologic maps of the area that will be used to better understand sand resources and underground faults in the region.

The scientific instruments on the airplane are completely passive with no emissions that pose a risk to humans, animals or plant life.

This survey will be flown at an altitude of 300 to 1,000 feet above ground by contractor EON Geosciences. Experienced pilots who are specially trained and approved for low-level flying will operate the aircraft.

All flights will occur during daylight hours and are coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure accordance with U.S. law. The flights will be based out of Rocky Mount-Wilson Airport in North Carolina and Dinwiddie County Airport in Virginia.

The airplane will fly over parts of Bertie, Edgecombe, Halifax, Martin, Nash, Northampton and Warren counties in North Carolina; Amelia, Brunswick, Caroline, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Emporia, Goochland, Greensville, Hanover, Henrico, Louisa, Nottoway, Powhatan, Prince George, Southhampton and Sussex Counties in Virginia; and the cities of Richmond, Colonial Heights, Emporia, Hopewell and Petersburg in Virginia.