Dublin, 11 September 2014
Scientists from the Geological Survey of Ireland and UCD have contributed to a new Geological Atlas of the offshore geology of north-west of Europe, which will be launched today at the Geological Survey of Denmark, Copenhagen. The Atlas and associated database was jointly developed by 8 geological surveys and sponsored by more than a dozen exploration companies at a cost of €4 million, and is expected to result in increased exploration activity and research.
The full name of the Atlas project is the Northeast Atlantic Geoscience Tectonostratigraphic Atlas (NAGTEC) and GSI's involvement grew in partnership the NAG consortium, which is a cooperative framework agreement between the Geological Surveys of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Iceland and Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands).
This hugely ambitious project began in June 2011, and in its 3 year lifespan has successfully correlated all released offshore data for the entire north-east Atlantic, for the very first time. Using this resource, skilled experts based at the various NAG surveys developed data products, primarily geological maps that detail the development of the North East Atlantic. These maps are now available for scrutiny amongst the NAGTEC Atlas pages, whilst the offshore data is housed in a structured database. It is worth noting that the project, undertaken by the multiple government agencies, was completed on time and on budget and met all targets.
Welcoming the launch, Minster of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Joe McHugh TD, pointed out that the long term benefits to Ireland, as a result of participation in NAGTEC are predicted to be significant:
· Datasets can be used by exploration companies to aid exploration.
· The majority of sponsoring companies are not active in Ireland but will now be more aware of Irish opportunities.
· The data will continue to stimulate research on offshore Ireland.
· This project will also highlight data and knowledge gaps for further exploration and research.
· New international research links have been forged between the surveys, which will result in more projects.
The Minster added that " this new data is also very timely in the context of the Atlantic exploration licensing round which was opened this summer and concludes in September 2015."
The Irish contribution to the NAGTEC project was co-ordinated by Maria Judge, INFOMAR Geologist at the Geological Survey of Ireland, and employed technical support from a post-doctoral researcher, Dr Kenneth McDermott, who was based at the School of Geological Sciences, UCD under the supervision of Prof. Pat Shannon. The project was also supported by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources' Petroleum Affairs Division of Ireland, who permitted access to the released offshore petroleum exploration data, from which much of the data products were generated.
The release of the atlas, to sponsoring companies initially, is timely for Ireland, as it comes after new licensing terms have been recently proposed and a new seismic data gathering exercise is underway, while another offshore licensing round will take place in 2015.