Director's Discourse
 Geology Matters Issue No 11
Introduction Director's Discourse Irish Geoscience Graduate Programme IRETHERM Dublin on the Rocks GSI Awards 2010 USGS visit GSI TELLUS Border Geoscience 2010 Conference Geoscience Initiatives Programme Staff News New Products

Director’s Discourse

Pat O'Connor
Dr Patrick O'Connor   

I have taken on the responsibility of Director GSI in an acting capacity following the retirement of Dr. Peadar McArdle on 5th November 2010. Peadar had served as Director for 18 years and he has made a very significant contribution to Irish geoscience in that time. He was certainly one of the principal architects of the National Geoscience Programme (2007 – 2013), launched by Minister Noel Dempsey, TD, at the Royal Irish Academy in February 2007.

That Programme was designed to underpin the fledgling Geoscience Sector in the context of the National Development Plan and to enable it to deliver a wide range of services to the minerals and petroleum sectors, but also increasingly to the environment, planning, water supplies, infrastructure, transport, tourism and heritage sectors. The Programme was also designed to create new research capacity in Irish geoscience departments (north and south) through the Griffith Geoscience Research Awards scheme which aims to provide €9.2m funding over 7 years to strategic research initiatives.

The programme reached its mid-term in late 2010 and at that point an independent external review of the Griffith Geoscience Research Awards was concluded by Indecon International Economic Consultants. The review found that the scheme has had significant success to date both in terms of programme outputs and also in terms of leveraging non-Exchequer funding. When fully implemented the Griffith programme is likely to achieve significant outputs which will be of lasting benefit. Research groups funded under Griffith made a series of presentations at the Geoscience 2010 Conference opened by Minister of State Conor Lenihan, TD, at Dublin Castle in early November.

The GSI flagship project is, of course, the INFOMAR seabed mapping programme which is managed jointly with the Marine Institute. Commenced in 2006 as part of the National Geoscience Programme it too has reached the mid-point of Phase 1 with the mapping of more that 13 priority bays and 1.5 priority areas successfully completed. The open availability of INFOMAR data has given rise to a wide range of spin-off research projects and has served to underpin new business development in the marine area. Much of this work was showcased at Geoscience 2010 where an entire day was devoted to INFOMAR presentations. During 2011 a greater focus will be placed on added-value projects in sectors such as renewable energy, aquaculture, fisheries and coastal zone management and build on work already underway with Enterprise Ireland and Stakeholders. There has also been a call for tenders issued under INFOMAR and related EU-funded marine projects in which GSI is a partner (EMODNET and Geoseas).

Towards the end of 2010, GSI together with GSNI and partners at Queens University Belfast and Dundalk IT were awarded €5m in funding under Interreg IVA to undertake the TELLUS Border Project over a 3-year period comprising high resolution airborne geophysical and ground geochemical surveys of much of the border counties of RoI to support environmental objectives and mineral resource potential assessment. Tenders for procurement of contracts for this new flagship project through the OJEU have been prepared and it is anticipated that surveys can commence by mid-2011. The project is 100% funded and shows again the capacity of groups like GSI and GSNI to win external revenue for the benefit of their jurisdictions.

Dr. Patrick O’Connor

Dr. Patrick O’Connor has been appointed as Director GSI in an acting capacity since 9 November 2010 following the retirement of Dr. Peadar McArdle.

Pat has served as Assistant Director GSI for the past five years where his duties have been largely of a corporate nature in finance, corporate governance, HR, strategic planning and business development. Pat joined GSI as a geochemist in 1975 and he has maintained an active involvement in many European projects carried out by the Geochemistry Expert Group of EuroGeoSurveys, particularly the Geochemical Atlas of Europe (2005, 2006). He initiated the Dublin urban geochemistry project in 2009 to establish an environmental baseline for the capital and examine the relationship of urban soil quality and human health. He has been instrumental in the delivery of the joint GSNI-GSI Tellus Border Project which received significant EU funding through Interreg IVA and commenced in November 2010. The project will deliver high resolution airborne geophysical and ground geochemical surveys over much of the area of the six border counties over a 3-year period and will support environmental objectives and mineral resource potential assessment for the region.

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