Tellus North Midlands Airborne Survey Touches Down for Final Time
Minister Joe McHugh praises Geological Survey of Ireland's successful completion of the latest phase of Tellus survey.

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 the North Midlands region, will now prepare to return to their base in South Africa having completed the widespread aerial survey led by the Geological Survey of Ireland. The aircraft - equipped with the very latest geophysical technology - has 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. 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 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 other 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.”

One of the Tellus North Midlands survey aircraftTellus North Midlands survey area

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 project has the potential to deliver significant long-term benefits, encouraging investment in mineral exploration, enabling better environmental management and enhancing agricultural productivity in the region.

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 or check the website for regular updates.