Evaluation of aerial thermal infrared remote sensing to identify groundwater-discharge zones in the Meduxnekeag River, Houlton, Maine

Open-File Report 2013-1168
Prepared in cooperation with the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians
By: , and 

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Abstract

Residents of the area near Houlton, Maine, have observed seasonal episodic blooms of algae and documented elevated concentrations of fecal-coliform bacteria and inorganic nutrients and low dissolved oxygen concentrations in the Meduxnekeag River. Although point and nonpoint sources of urban and agricultural runoff likely contribute to water-quality impairment, the role of shallow groundwater inflows in delivering such contaminants to the Meduxnekeag River has not been well understood.


To provide information about possible groundwater inflows to the river, airborne thermal infrared videography was evaluated as a means to identify and classify thermal anomalies in a 25-mile reach of the mainstem and tributaries of the Meduxnekeag River near Houlton, Maine. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, collected thermal infrared images from a single-engine, fixed-wing aircraft during flights on December 3–4, 2003, and November 26, 2004.


Eleven thermal anomalies were identified on the basis of data from the December 2003 flight and 17 from the November 2004 flight, which covered the same reaches of stream. Following image analysis, characterization, and prioritization, the georeferenced infrared images of the thermal anomalies were compared to features on topographic maps of the study area. The mapped anomalies were used to direct observations on the ground to confirm discharge locations and types of inflow. The variations in grayscale patterns on the images were thus confirmed as representing shallow groundwater-discharge zones (seeps), outfalls of treated wastewater, or ditches draining runoff from impervious surfaces.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Evaluation of aerial thermal infrared remote sensing to identify groundwater-discharge zones in the Meduxnekeag River, Houlton, Maine
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2013-1168
DOI 10.3133/ofr20131168
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New England Water Science Center
Description v, 21 p.
Country United States
State Maine
City Houlton
Other Geospatial Meduxnekeag River
Datum North American Datum of 1983
Projection Universal Transverse Mercator projection
Online Only (Y/N) Y
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