International Year of Planet Earth
Geology Matters No 8
Introduction Director's Discourse The Role of Geoscience in Society World Geoscience Conference International Co-operation and Agreements Griffith Geoscience Research Awards 2008 - International Year of Planet Earth GeoUrban Dublin Project New Burren Map IYPE/Du Noyer Competition Launch of INFOMAR Website and Product Range Mapping Potential Landslide Hazards Groundwater Vulnerability Mapping An Intern's Life

2008 - International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE)

Sharon McCabe & Enda Gallagher

GSI Exhibition area

With IYPE now counting down towards its conclusion we can briefly look back at what has been a very eventful year. Nations all over the world have participated in IYPE and Ireland has been particularly busy. Here is just a small sample of activity in Ireland.

The year started out with the Official Launch of IYPE in Ireland in mid January. The event was held at Dublin Castle and Minister Eamon Ryan as well as GSI Director Paedar McArdle spoke to a large audience about the importance of the issues that IYPE hopes to emphasize. The launch also included the first of the GSI "Planet Earth" public lecture series, entitled "Life and Earth; Interlocking Histories" by Professor Aubrey Manning. This series has continued throughout the year and by year end ten high profile public lectures will have been delivered, each in both Dublin and one regional location across the island of Ireland.

Raising public awareness and education is one of the main goals of IYPE and to support this, there have been a range of walks and fieldtrips arranged in various locations. Led by professional geologists mostly these have been a great opportunity for people of all ages to explore and learn more about the rocks of our island.

For those who may not be so inclined towards the outdoors, there are also a number of permanent or semi-permanent exhibits related to IYPE. GSI has developed a specially dedicated IYPE exhibition. Open until the end of the year, and perhaps beyond, this exhibition demonstrates the importance of geology in our everyday lives. With stunning graphics as well as exciting rock samples and other props, this is something not to be missed. Also in Dublin, Trinity College’s Geological museum has been housing the "Story of the Earth" exhibit located on the top floor of the geology building. This exhibit is a magnificent representation of earth science, with the permanent collection containing over 80,000 specimens. Away from Dublin there is also the GSNI virtual quarry exhibit at W5 in the Odyssey building in Belfast. Launched in October of 2007 this exhibit uses real aerial photographs to display the rocks that make up Northern Ireland’s beautiful landscape. It then goes on to show how those same rocks are used in our everyday lives for homes and other materials. The very popular "Footprints in Coal" is a permanent exhibition in the Castlecomer Discovery Centre.

Education of the public is important but education of youth is also a key goal of IYPE. Several youth competitions have been organised towards this end. The "How Erratic is Your Block?" competition gave transition year students (and their equivalent in Northern Ireland) the opportunity to identify and investigate an erratic in their area. The participants were encouraged to be creative and even illustrate their findings. A number of winners were selected and honoured at an awards ceremony and celebration in GSI in May. Another great competition was the UNESCO student which invited university students to submit artistic pieces depicting the importance and beauty of our Earth. The top three winners were sent to Paris to join 250 other students from around the world at the IYPE Global Launch event at UNESCO headquarters. Continuing the theme of education, the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies "Seismology in Schools" pilot programme was launched earlier this year. Thirty four schools throughout Ireland have been given their very own seismometers to encourage children to attain hands-on experience in earth science. Another attempt at bringing Earth Science closer to students is the efforts of GSI, under its Griffith Geoscience Research Awards Scheme, to support Trinity College to produce a number of geoscience posters to be distributed to primary schools. These simple yet graphic posters will help to illustrate different aspects of Irish geology. Targeted at primary students as well is the popular children’s Eureka supplement which did a special IYPE and earth science edition in April. Filled with fantastic illustrations and hands-on activities for kids at home this issue took a look at the usefulness of geoscience in our everyday lives.

Máirtín Ó’Fearraigh
Máirtín Ó’Fearraigh of Pobalscoil Chloich Cheann Fhaola, Falcarragh, Co. Donegal - overall winner of the Maxwell Henry Close Award

Claire Jane Taylor
Claire Jane Taylor of Queen’s University, Belfast - overall winner of the UNESCO University Student Competition

IYPE has also gotten a great deal of media attention. On the radio there has been the "The Goldilocks World!" series (February-April), an eight part series focusing on geology of Ireland as well as IYPE. There was also the BBC’s "Blueprint Experience" radio programme. IYPE was represented on television as well. In Northern Ireland, the BBC NI continued its Blueprint series as well as incorporating a related series; "Off the Beaten Track", a walking trail guide through Northern Ireland.

New stamps
Other important events included the launch by An Post of two IYPE commemorative 55 cent stamps. The two images on the stamps are artists’ renditions of clay models created by primary school students Conor Reid and Mohammad Rahman during an environmental workshop entitled "Earth’s Future". These were the first circular stamps ever to be released by An Post. In addition, Ireland’s two European Geoparks; Marble Arch Caves & Cuilcagh Mountain Geopark and the Copper Coast Geopark hosted a lot of events this year including guided walks, lectures and a geology course.

Planet Earth Newsletter
The specially dedicated IYPE newsletter is available to download at

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