Mapping our Earth Resources
    

Preface | 2006 Achievements | Serving a Changing Society | Supporting the Knowledge Economy | Protecting our Environment | Mapping our Earth Resources | Engaging with Society | Co-operating Abroad | Providing a Stimulating Work Environment | Using GSI Services


Highest waterfall in MoroccoIreland will require increased access to natural resources in order to ensure continued economic growth and quality of life for its people. To successfully deliver on this, full account must be taken of several imperatives including the need to analyse economic, social and environmental issues in an integrated way: the EU requires that economic growth based on natural resource development is decoupled from its consequent environmental impacts. The geoscience sector in Ireland, including GSI, is well placed to contribute effectively to natural resource development, including all phases of the life cycle of the materials. Mapping is the essential baseline activity that supports this activity.

During 2006 two new mapping initiatives were commenced to support a range of national objectives, including natural resource development, in both the offshore and land-based environments. The INFOMAR Programme, which GSI is jointly undertaking with the Marine Institute, was announced in last year’s Annual Report and its first results from the 2006 surveying season are now available. At the same time, airborne surveys took place over three selected areas in Ireland and these were essentially pilot surveys for the Resource and Environmental Survey of Ireland (RESI). RESI was devised as an all-island initiative some years ago and while the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) has fully implemented it through its TELLUS Programme, these pilot surveys are the first to address the geophysical objectives of RESI in the Republic.



Seabed survey

The INFOMAR Programme is designed to map Ireland’s shallow inshore waters, thereby completing the survey of the entire Irish seabed initiated by the Irish National Seabed Survey (1999 – 2005). Obtaining similar datasets (multibeam sonar bathymetry maps, magnetic/gravity/seismic surveys, seabed sampling), these will assist in environmental monitoring of our marine area, oil and gas exploration and development, fisheries, navigation, coastal engineering and support of the EU Water Framework Directive. INFOMAR surveys during 2006 acquired data for Bantry, Dunmanus and Galway Bays and adjacent areas, involving both shipboard inshore surveys and airborne surveys (LIDAR). The RV Celtic Explorer and a contract vessel of IMAR Ltd were deployed in Bantry Bay, while nearshore data in all three bays were acquired during an airborne LIDAR survey undertaken by Tenix LADS.

Data from INFOMAR surveys are supplied in digital format to customers. A review of data infrastructural needs is currently being undertaken and a trial Interactive Web Data Delivery System is being developed for delivery by mid 2007. In order to further support the programme in future years, an investment of over €2 million was made in 2006 in capital equipment, including an inshore launch, and geophysical and sampling equipment – all of which were ordered in 2006, with delivery expected in 2007.

Castleisland - Tralee areaThe airborne geophysical surveys were completed in June 2006 in three areas: part of Cavan-Monaghan-Leitrim, Castleisland-Tralee and Silvermines area. The Joint Airborne Geoscience Capability (JAC), a joint venture by the Geological Survey of Finland and the British Geological Survey was contracted to undertake the work. The survey flight line spacing was 200m (100m at Silvermines) and the altitude was 56m, ensuring high-resolution results. The Twin Otter aircraft carried magnetic, radiometric and frequency-domain electromagnetic systems. The strength of the magnetic field provides information on the bedrock and its structures (fractures, faults), which may influence the concentration of radon in overlying houses, the formation of mineral deposits and the movement of groundwater. The electromagnetic system measures the electrical conductivity of subsurface materials, the relatively conductive materials being metallic mineral deposits, water-bearing rock and gravel, and contaminated leakage from landfill. The radiometric system measures the radioactivity of the Earth’s surface, which is emitted by elements such as uranium, thorium and potassium. The radioactive gas, radon, is an important daughter isotope of uranium which under certain conditions can accumulate in overlying houses and can pose a significant health hazard.

Back to top

The data from the surveys were released in December 2006 and are now available. A process of interpretation has begun in cooperation with partners such as the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, the Environmental Protection Agency, local authorities and the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland. This is expected to provide valuable information in relation to:

  • The distribution of important groundwater resources and where they might be vulnerable to pollution (Cavan Monaghan-Leitrim and Silvermines);
  • The suitability of areas for activities such as landfills and quarries (all three areas);
  • The delineation of areas with potential high indoor radon (Castleisland-Tralee);
  • Exploration for mineral deposits (Cavan-Monaghan-Leitrim).

GSI carried out a technical audit of the GSNI TELLUS Project, involving both geophysical and geochemical surveys, and this provided opportunities for significant sharing of expertise between staff of the two surveys.

Mapping remains an essential element in the range of customised services that GSI provides to its customers and stakeholders. GSI seeks and welcomes the submission of manuscript maps from professional geologists and is pleased to make them available through its Document Management System: in 2006 there were two such submissions. Land-based surveying, involving both bedrock and subsoils mapping, continued in several parts of the country in 2006: a bedrock map for Sheet 77 was published and a special geotourist map for the Burren region (Sheet 51 and adjacent areas) was in draft form, while integrated subsoil and bedrock mapping continued on Sheet 50. This latter is the Dublin sheet and compilation of existing bedrock and subsoils data for it was completed, as well as 43 shallow boreholes. A project on the Quaternary geology of the Midlands, jointly with NUI Maynooth, was advanced, with geophysical surveying and nine boreholes completed. A key achievement this year was the publication of the joint GSI-GSNI Bedrock Map of Ireland.

Bedrock and Quaternary reconnaissance mapping coverage

Information on the shallow subsurface of urban areas, essential for construction and infrastructure projects, is contained in the Geotechnical Database. An additional 548 reports were added to the database in 2006, giving a total of 5118 reports containing 65,642 boreholes, trial pits and probes – representing a 19% increase on the previous year. However, the rate of input was much lower and the total rose by only 4% to 34,330 by end of 2006.

An extensive drilling programme, comprising of 422 boreholes with an aggregate total depth of 3444m, was undertaken in support of mapping and other programmes.


The programme is summarised as follows: -

Borehole Nos

County

Location

No. of Holes

Drilling Method

Total Depth (m)

Mapping Sections

GSI-06-01

Galway

St. Clerans

1

Rotary Coring

199.00

Bedrock

GSI-06-02

Galway

Kiltullagh

1

Rotary Coring

550.00

Bedrock

GSI-06-03-164

Cavan

various sites

162

Flight Augering

1014.00

Groundwater

GSI-06-165

Cavan

Glangevlin

1

Rotary Coring

20.00

Groundwater

GSI-06-166-174

Offaly

Horseleap

9

Flight Augering

110.00

Quaternary

GSI-06-175-291

Galway

West Galway

146

Flight Augering

659.00

Groundwater

GSI-06-292-314

Dublin

Various sites

38

Flight Augering

234.00

Quaternary

GSI-06-327-386

Galway

Various sites

63

Flight Augering

338.00

Groundwater

GSI-06-387

Galway

Monivea

1

Rotary Coring

320.00

Bedrock


The spotlight was focused in 2006 on the need to accelerate Aggregate Potential Mapping (APM) across the country. As the National Development Plan (2000 – 2006) was concluding and plans were in preparation for a new plan, it was clear that a high demand for aggregates will continue according as Ireland strives to upgrade its infrastructure to international standards. With the aggregates industry facing increased demand, reducing reserves and competing land uses, the APM methodology equips planners with a knowledge of aggregate potential in assessing planning issues. GSI has completed only four counties – Cavan, Donegal, Meath and Wicklow. A timely public seminar organised by the Irish Concrete Federation drew attention to the need for GSI to extend its APM coverage nationwide.


Quarry at Kilmessan, Co. Meath

Back to top

 

NEW DONATIONS OF BEDROCK MAPS

Donations of Bedrock mapsGSI welcomes the lodging of manuscript geological maps (or the opportunity to prepare digital copies) so that they can be used to update our databases as well as being made available to interested customers. Accordingly, we are pleased to announce the lodgement of two significant map collections.

The copies of Prof. Bernard E. Leakes’s field sheets of Connemara, amounting to 240 one-sixteenth 6” sheets, record the detailed geology of the Galway Granite and the surrounding Dalradian metamorphic and Ordovician igneous rocks. Prof. Leake’s mapping has already been included in various GSI products, reflecting the fruitful collaboration with him during the compilation of our 1:100,000 bedrock map series.

Mrs. Kathleen Brindley has recently lodged the original mapped 6” sheets of her late husband, Prof. James C. Brindley, from the Leinster Granite and its surrounds. This mapping is newly available and that from the north end of the Leinster Granite, where some of Prof. Brindley’s classic papers were based, will be of particular interest.

All of these lodged sheets will be scanned and added to the digital Document Management System for on-screen viewing in the GSI Customer Centre and eventually over the Internet.

GSI wishes to thank sincerely Mrs. Brindley and Prof. Leake for their kindness in lodging these valued maps with us. 

A MAP OF MANY COLOURS
During 2006 an island-wide 1:500,000 scale bedrock map was completed and published in cooperation with the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI), a significant example of North-South cooperation. This is actually the first joint GSNI-GSI map of the whole island and it builds on earlier Cross-Border cooperation during compilation of the GSI 1:100,000 scale series and the GSNI 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 scale maps. It is the first entirely new geological map of the whole island since 1928 and represents the most modern and detailed summary of the geology available at this scale, with over three times the number of rock units featured on the 1928 map. It may also be the first time that a national geological map featured in the pages of a daily Irish newspaper!

Last year’s Annual Report recorded the completion of the nationwide 1:100,000 scale bedrock map series, a set of 21 maps and accompanying booklets which provide regional-scale geological information for a range of customers. The new all-island map is equally important in that it provides an overview of the distribution of bedrock types. It is actually an interpretation of what would be seen if the overlying soils and overburden – which cover 90% of the country – were removed. International studies indicate that the quantified benefits of such maps can exceed their costs by up to twenty-fold.

The map is an important educational tool and helps to place environmental and landscape issues in a broader context for students and the general public. It will also be used in the strategic planning and management of infrastructure and natural resource development involving materials as diverse as groundwater, aggregates and metallic ores. By allowing comparisons of geological sequences between Ireland and other countries this type of map can provide an impartial basis for comparing qualitatively the relative exploration potential of countries and can therefore influence decisions on inward investment for exploration. Such maps are also the basis of international cooperation and the development of new insights into the geological development of our planet.

Map launch July, 2006The map was launched jointly in July 2006 by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Mr. Noel Dempsey, TD, and the Minister for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Ms. Maria Eagle, MP. The accompanying photo shows the two Ministers flanking the GSI Director, Dr. Peadar McArdle (on left), and the GSNI Director, Mr. Garth Earls (on right).


 Back to top