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GEOSCIENCE 2015 Conference, Underpinning Ireland

Tourism, Maps & Apps by Geological Survey of Ireland


Dublin, 4 November 2015


Following on from the Budget 2016 announcement of €9m funding for Geoscience, the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) today set out an ambitious programme and gave updates on a successful 2015, including:

  • Grants to support Geotourism and Geoparks
  • New groundwater mobile phone App to support clean drinking water
  • New offshore mapping from the INFOMAR programme, ending its phase 1.
  • National Tellus airborne geophysics survey now 30% complete
    New Research initiatives


Opening the conference, Minister Joe McHugh TD, commented,

"Geoscience in Ireland continues to grow in importance for the entire country and I am happy to be able to support the impactful work of the GSI. In tackling issues as diverse and important as water quality, marine safety, attracting exploration, job creation and R&D, we are underpinning the recovery of our economy. In particular, today, the grants announced for geotourism and the development of the Geopark programme will be a considerable boost to this growing tourism sector. I am also delighted to support the serious financial commitment my department is making to Geoscience and to see new permanent positions being recruited."


Geotourism Grants

Funding has been approved to part-fund existing and potential Geoparks  geologists in delivering educational and geotourism activities, required to maintain or apply for membership of the Global Geoparks Network (GGN). In addition funding is allocated for specific products such as popular geology books, trail guides, information material and website development. Geoparks are a UNESCO initiative for sustainable tourism based on geology , leading to job creation and benefit in local rural communities. Projects funded in Ireland include the Copper Coast; Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geoparks; the developing areas of Joyce Country in Galway; and the cross border Mourne Cooley Gullion area.


Groundwater Mobile Phone App

The new mobile phone App developed by the GSI shows water wells, karst features (such as sinkholes), where groundwater resources exist underground (aquifers) and how vulnerable they are to potential contamination. This is a vital tool in planning for new developments, water wells, septic tanks and even agriculture in Ireland. The App is based on extensive field mapping by GSI and digital cartography, and was developed in-house.

New marine mapping  from INFOMAR

Inshore marine mapping surveys  have been completed for Bannow Bay, Wexford Harbour, Youghal, Dungarvan and the Boyne Estuary with both Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle to be completed by year end. Preliminary images have been compiled, including shipwrecks, such as City of London off Wexford (image below) and newly mapped shoals, but all data will be available to download in 2016.


New Mapping  from Tellus

Extraordinary new detail of volcanic features in the midlands was revealed earlier this year and the latest surveying phase in eastern Ireland was completed on-schedule this week , with results available in spring 2016. The completion of the eastern Ireland survey phase sees the Tellus airborne geophysics programme continue to deliver world-class surveying, with progress towards national airborne geophysics coverage now standing at 30%.  Geochemical surveying continues in the west of Ireland this autumn, with release of further results, including precious metals, by year end.



GSI recently announced a "Research Short Call" with funding available for both researchers and SMEs to carry out geoscience related projects or development, for periods up to one year and funding up to €25k. Depending on quality of proposals received, up to €1m in funding could be available for the scheme.
In addition, for the first time, GSI are pleased to announce a new collaboration with the prestigious Fulbright Commission of Ireland for 2016-2017, providing funding for work and travel in the US for an Irish based geoscientist.


Geoscience Ireland jobs initiative

Geoscience Ireland (GI) is an integrated network of 25 companies, bringing expertise in water, minerals and infrastructure development to global clients in over 50 countries. Launched in September 2012 as a government measure to help business win work in international markets, GI is supported by the Geological Survey of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland and the network employs almost 1,200 persons, with a collective turnover of €252 million in 2014, of which 64% comes from overseas business. In 2015 GI member companies reported the addition of 134 new jobs in the first six months of the year.

In addition a new book, 648 Billion Sunrises: A miscellany of Irish Geology by Patrick Roycroft, will also be launched at the conference.




Note to Editors


The Geological Survey of Ireland is the National Earth Science Agency. It is responsible for providing geological advice and information, and for the acquisition of data for this purpose. GSI produces a range of products including maps, reports and databases and acts as a knowledge centre and project partner in all aspects of Irish geology. GSI is a division of the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR).



Groundwater Mapping & App

GSI play a key role in the mapping and protection of Ireland's groundwater resources, which provide c.25% of drinking water supplies in Ireland and up to 100% in certain counties. The GSI Groundwater Programme, having completed national scale aquifer, vulnerability and protection scheme mapping in 2013 are now focussed on addressing identified data gaps, supporting implementation of the second cycle of the Water Framework Directive and developing the science to support future groundwater use and protection. Current initiatives include developing a methodology for mapping of karst limestone features (including sink holes),  protection plans for specific drinking water supplies , including work with the Federation of Group Water Schemes,  and sand and gravel aquifer mapping.



TELLUS Project background

The TELLUS project is an initiative to carry out state-of-the-art mapping using airborne remote sensing and ground based sampling, to complete a baseline all island environmental  and geological dataset, facilitating the implementation of certain EU Directives and stimulating investment. The programme was completed in Northern Ireland in 2011 where it has stimulated c.UK£50m in inward investment in mineral exploration alone. In association with the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, GSI attracted €5m funding from INTERREG IVA to carry out the TELLUS Border project from 2010-2013, covering the six border counties of the Republic and allowing integration with similar data that already exist for Northern Ireland. The programme also developed a new methodology for Radon Mapping in conjunction with RPII, supported research across a range of applied and environmental topics and is estimated to have stimulated more than €1m in commitments to mineral exploration expenditure already.


Government have approved direct Exchequer funding in 2014 and 2015 to continue the project to the rest of the country with the objective of completing the whole country by 2021. Tellus maps and data are available free of charge at




Ireland, through GSI, is also a world leader in marine mapping and jointly manages INFOMAR, the national marine mapping programme which has completed the mapping of Ireland's deeper waters and is currently focused on mapping priority areas in support of Ocean Energy, Marine Safety and Fisheries.  INFOMAR is funded by DCENR through a dedicated multi-annual Large Capital Programme, reported on quarterly to the Minister. The programme consists of three components:

1. Data Acquisition, Management and Interpretation

2. Data Exchange & Integration

3. Value Added Exploitation


In 2013, in addition to the surveying and added value operations, a scheduled external review was completed by consultants PwC, leading to a Government Decision in late 2013 to approve the continuance of INFOMAR, at present level of funding, to 2018, with a greater emphasis on the Added Value Programme. The programme continues to assist both of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive Technical Advisory Group and the Marine Co-Ordination Group and is listed as a Key Enabler under the Integrated Marine action Plan (Harnessing our Ocean Wealth). 


Operationally INFOMAR acquire data primarily through multibeam echo sounder mapping from vessels, with GSI operating four inshore vessels dedicated to the programme and Marine Institute leasing ship time from their two larger offshore vessels as appropriate. A key target for the programme is the completion of mapping of 26 bays and 3 offshore areas designated as Priority, by completion of Phase 1 in Q4 2015.In 2015 this will include mapping in Lough Foyle, Carlingford, Drogheda, Bannow, Youghal & Dungarvan Bays and Wexford harbour approaches.


As part of the INFOMAR survey of Bannow Bay in 2015 local divers alerted the INFOMAR survey team to the presence of a wreck very close to the shore about halfway between Kilmore Quay and Carnsore Point. The wreck is believed to be that of the "City of London". The City of London was built in 1868, a cargo ship and was on route from San Francisco to Liverpool carrying a cargo of bagged wheat and pressed salmon with a crew of 29 onboard. On January 13th 1875 the ship encountered very heavy seas and ran aground beyond St Patricks Bridge and onto a steep sloping sandy beach c. 5 miles west of Carnsore Point. The 29 crew were safely brought ashore by the coastguard.  The vessel remained lying on the beach with no way of saving it but the cargo was to be recovered.


The survey of the wreck has revealed that it is lying East-West on its side and is approx.. 70m x 11m and is 0.5m in height off the seabed. The area around the wreck appears to have debris from the wreck scattered and the wreck itself is quite broken up. As this shipwreck is over 100 years old it is protected under the National Monuments (Amendment) Acts 1987 and 1994.  


Geoscience Ireland

Geoscience Ireland (GI) is a network of 25 companies, delivering integrated expertise in water, minerals, environmental and infrastructure development to clients in over 50 countries.


GI is supported by the Geological Survey of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. The GI network provides design, consultancy and contracting services to multilateral agencies, governments and the private sector.


The companies and organisations involved in Geoscience Ireland have overlapping expertise so they can come together to win significant international projects. Working abroad is nothing new to the companies involved, given that they have a network of international offices in UK, Africa, North America and elsewhere.  The staff in the consortium companies have worked extensively internationally in private sector mineral exploration, public infrastructural developments, and with multilateral development agencies on institutional strengthening and capacity building.


GSI Research

The GSI are pleased to announce a new collaboration with the Fulbright Commission of Ireland for 2016-2017. The Fulbright Commission is a global organisation that awards highly competitive, merit-based grants to international postgraduate students, scholars, and professionals to study, research, and lecture in the United States and for Americans to undertake similar activities outside the US. The funding does not cover salaries of the researchers but does cover travel and related costs.


The Geological Survey of Ireland will be funding an Irish based researcher to spend time with a US research group as part of the 2016/2017 award programme – researchers can be at any stage of their career but must be working in an area of geoscience. This includes but is not limited to: geological and marine mapping, geological processes, Earth observation, groundwater, raw materials and minerals and public perception of Earth resources.


For further information please see the GSI website:


The Fulbright website:



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