GEOSCIENCE 2015 Conference - Underpinning Ireland
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.”

Tourism, Maps & Apps by Geological Survey of Ireland

Geotourism Grants
Funding has been approved to part-fund existing and potential Geoparks geologist 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.

 City of London wreck
 City of London Wreck c. 5 miles west of Carnsore Point

The survey of the wreck has revealed that it is lying East-West on its side and is approx. 70m x 11m and 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.