CHICAGO (CBS) — Worries about beach erosion will have scientists measuring the amount of sand along Lake Michigan’s northern Illinois shoreline this week, but the way that measurement will be taken is new.

Scientists will be using a helicopter with an antenna hanging down. It will send an electromagnetic signal into the sand and into the water to see the thickness of the sand layer as well as of other materials below that. WBBM’s Bernie Tafoya reports.

“It would show maybe, here’s a thick sand deposit and then there’s a layer of gravel, and it would tell us the thickness of that, and then here’s a layer of clay,” said Diana Tecic, Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Scientists suspect high Lake Michigan water levels and currents that push sand south towards Indiana are shrinking beaches; as well as possibly eroding the shoreline, eventually threatening buildings.

Tecic said Illinois Beach State Park has been hard hit by erosion and could lose, not only beach space, but trails and more unless something is done.

The Illinois State Geological Survey is working with IDNR on the study. Results, Tecic said, should be out by the end of the year.

She said the state received a federal grant of $230,000 to do the study.

Possible solutions, down the line she said, may include adding sand where its levels have dropped, and removing sand where there is a build-up that is threatening structures.

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