Dublin , 23 April 2015
Having flown over 32,000 km– equivalent to three quarters the way around the Earth - the Tellus North Midlands geological survey aircraft has landed at Weston airport today for the final time.
The two small single-propeller Cessna planes, which have become a familiar sight to the people of counties Roscommon, Longford and Westmeath, will now prepare to return to their base in South Africa having completed the widespread aerial survey led by the Geological Survey of Ireland.
Operated and flown by world leaders in this field, CGG Airborne from South Africa, the airborne survey was part of the wider Tellus North Midlands survey which also included a ground survey focusing on soil and rock sampling.
The aircraft - equipped with the very latest geophysical technology - have been gathering data for the Tellus North Midlands survey over the last seven months, helping scientists and planners better understand the soils, rocks and natural resources of the counties in the north midlands region.
The initiative - which was funded by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources - will now enter its analysis phase with data expected to be freely available from September 2015.
Minister for Natural Resources, Joe McHugh T.D., said today,
"While initially largely funded with EU funding, government has in 2014 and 2015 provided €4.5 million to extend this project from the six border counties to the midlands and hopefully on to the rest of the country. I'm delighted to see the successful delivery of the latest phase of this significant mapping programme, which promises to bring long-term benefits to the area. We have seen an increase in mineral exploration investment, but also provided crucial information to othe sectors such as agriculture and also in relation to radiological issues in terms of Radon. Overall, government is supporting the creation of a world-class scientific database to support agricultural productivity and environmental management through previous Tellus surveys in Northern Ireland and the border region, and hope to realise these benefits in the north midlands and beyond in the coming years".
Mairéad Glennon, Project Manager at the Geological Survey of Ireland, commented,
"After seven months, many in-flight hours and contending with the infamous Irish weather, it's fantastic to conclude this stage of the survey which will greatly add to our understanding of the environment we live in. We're excited to begin processing the data collected from both the airborne and ground surveys, which will be combined with the information previously gathered in the border counties of Ireland and the counties of Northern Ireland to provide a new and exciting take on the geology of this area.
"We would like to thank the general public and local communities for their co-operation, support and interest throughout the airborne survey. We would also like to thank the Irish Aviation Authority, the various equestrian bodies and the Irish Farmers Association, and the local media who, amongst others, greatly helped in the smooth progress of the project."
In addition to the airborne survey, a team of specialists has completed a geochemical soil survey of the same area, collecting some 4,500 soil samples. Once analysed the Tellus North Midland findings will be made freely available to members of the public and all interested groups.
The results will be seamlessly joined with environmental data already collected in Northern Ireland as part of the Tellus Project (2004-2007) and in the border counties as part of the Tellus Border Project (2011-2013). Completing the jigsaw remains a priority for GSI and plans to extend the Tellus survey throughout the rest of Ireland are gaining momentum. Full details of the next phase of the project are expected soon.
The Tellus North Midlands Freephone information line will continue to operate and anyone with questions can contact 1800 303 516. Those interested in the project can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or check the website http://www.tellus.ie/ for regular updates.
Notes 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). http://www.gsi.ie/.
· Since 2007, over 25,000 km2 of the island of Ireland has been surveyed through the Tellus and Tellus Border projects which mapped the geology of Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland. Outputs from the new phase of the project will be merged with existing data to make seamless maps which will be available free of charge online to all
· The cross-border Tellus Border project was funded by the INTERREG IVA development programme of the European Regional Development Fund, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Tellus Border was managed by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, in partnership with the Geological Survey of Ireland, Queen's University Belfast and Dundalk Institute of Technology. Outputs from Tellus Border, including data to view and download, programme reports and research reports are available online, free of charge, at http://www.tellusborder.eu/.
· 'Tellus' was the Roman goddess of the earth, also called Terra Mater.