European Space Expo
Geology Matters No. 14
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GSI at the European Space Expo
Michael Sheehy, Geologist - Quaternary and Geotechnical Programme

GSI was a partner to the European Space Expo when it visited Dublin from the 4th to the 9th of June. This successful event was hosted in its own specially constructed dome in Trinity College Dublin Front Square and had 30,000 visitors. The European Space Expo showcased the wide range of benefits that Space brings to Europe and how these initiatives are improving our quality of life. GSI contributed two talks on space applications focused on how observing the earth from different vantage points and in different ways can answer important geological questions for Irish, and European, citizens. Visitors to the Space Expo were provided with material illustrating the process of combining space data with geological data and knowledge.

The role of Earth Observation (EO) data in mapping Ireland's maritime territory, one of the largest in Europe was detailed by GSI Director, Koen Verbruggen. Director Verbruggen’s overview of the contribution EO technologies make to bathymetric mapping also illustrated the useful derivatives that are developed as ancillary products when using these technologies. Mapping the submarine environment and mapping from space present similar sets of challenges; Director Verbruggen also described some of these parallels, how obstacles are overcome to achieve good outcomes and anticipated future directions.

 Michael Sheehy addressing the audience Michael Sheehy, addressing the audience at the EUROPEAN SPACE EXPO in Trinity College, Dublin in June 2013. Photo by @megafloods

GSI geologist Michael Sheehy, engaged and entertained an enthralled audience when he demonstrated how radar data helps map geohazards (landslides, subsidence, heave) in urban areas. This talk came from work developed during GSI’s participation in the FP7 PanGeo project. The PanGeo project ( is developing ground instability maps and reports for 52 large centres of population in the EU (~13% of the EU population). PanGeo provides a ‘ground stability layer’ which describes the spatial location and extent of geohazards for all the cities mapped. Geohazards in each participating city have been mapped by the corresponding National Geological Survey. Detailed local knowledge of geohazards has been combined with satellite observations of ground movement to create a comprehensive map of all geohazards present in each town, ensuring that different towns can be compared. The Geological Survey of Ireland has developed ‘ground stability layer’ maps and interpretive reports for Co. Dublin and Cork City (the combined study areas cover >30% of the Irish population).