GSI hosts sixth international NAGTEC workshop
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GSI hosts sixth international NAGTEC workshop
Maria Judge - GSI

Bathymetric map, representing the extent of the NAGTEC project

This November the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) had the privilege of hosting the sixth Northeast Atlantic Geoscience Tectonostratigraphic Atlas (NAGTEC) project workshop. The GSI’s involvement with the NAGTEC project began as a result of our partnership with the Northeast Atlantic Geoscience (NAG) consortium. NAG is a cooperative framework agreement between the following north European Geological Surveys: Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Iceland and Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands).

The NAG initiative works on sharing best practice and identifying theme areas of overlap between geological interests and challenges, encountered by all of its surveys. NAGTEC is the first project initiated by NAG; it began in June 2011 and is set to run for three years. So far the project has been keeping to a strict schedule and is due to complete in June 2014. NAGTEC aims to tackle the geological theme of common interest: Tectonic development of the North Atlantic; in order to: make a systematic compilation of all tectonostratigraphic information across the region, standardise nomenclature and data across the region and identify important data gaps that hamper further understanding of regional exploration priorities. The project is co-funded by the NAG Surveys and a consortium of oil and gas companies interested in the region. Over the course of the project, the NAG surveys have been compiling the latest information and research inputs, then merging these data into standardised formats, so as to have a unified approach when analysing the regional geology and delivering it to the sponsoring companies; a tall order but a welcome challenge.

NAGTEC has proven to be a great example of how we can use our shared scientific interests and cumulative data, to develop value added projects that aspire to address technical challenges and socio-geological interests on a large scale. This ambitious project is in its final phase and as such, all contributing parties are busy completing data products that will combine to result in: (i) an atlas, detailing the evolution of the northeast Atlantic and (ii) data presented in both a physical and online web Geographical Information System (GIS).

These final products will be available to the contributing surveys and sponsoring oil companies for a moratorium of 2 years for the atlas and 5 years for the GIS. Expiry of the moratorium on the hard copy atlas is scheduled for June 2016, followed by the release of the web GIS in June 2019. On completion of data products, the surveys’ expert research personnel will publish details of the project’s exciting scientific research and new understanding of the NAGTEC region, in peer reviewed scientific publications. The project will also highlight key data gaps, which may be pursued by further projects and research.

Over the course of the project, each of the participating surveys has an opportunity to host one of the bi-annual NAGTEC workshops. These workshops showcase progress to sponsors and provide a platform for further developing data products, interpretations and project planning with the international team. During the course of the project, survey personnel and company sponsors have travelled to workshops in Copenhagen Denmark, Edinburgh UK, Reykjavik Iceland, Utrecht The Netherlands, Tórshavn The Faroe Islands and most recently, Dublin Ireland. Four days of events were scheduled for the Dublin workshop from Sunday November 10th to Wednesday November 13th. Events began bright and early the Sunday morning, with participants taking part in a field trip to Lough Shinny and Portrane, in North County Dublin with Prof. John Walsh, University College Dublin (UCD) and Dr. Brian McConnell, GSI. The sun shone high in a blue sky, displaying Dublin’s coastal geology in spectacular light, which very much impressed our international colleagues. The following three days involved a variety of meetings, beginning the annual Irish petroleum conference: Atlantic Ireland 2013 and followed by the two day NAGTEC Workshop.

The first day of the NAGTEC workshop provided essential opportunity for preliminary deliberation of the project’s innovative data products, with the sponsoring company representatives. It began with presentations by expert research personnel - including Prof. Pat Shannon, UCD - summarising the project’s applied research into the evolution of the northeastern Atlantic. A poster session followed these presentations; designed to showcase the interpreted data products that will be presented in the atlas. Presentation and interaction with the group during the presentation of each poster proved progressive, with constructive comments and corrections from the group. The second day was reserved for interaction between specific working groups. Scientific discussion on regional data interpretation, documentation and text production took topical precedence.

By creating this tectonostratigraphic atlas of the Northeast Atlantic, NAGTEC will achieve the first systemic, standardised correlation of tectonostratigraphic information comprising the entire north eastern Atlantic region. It is hoped that the result of the project will promote an understanding of the geology and regional exploration priorities. The GSI were delighted with the opportunity to present expertise and share our facilities with international colleagues, many of whom visited Ireland for the first time. GSI staff were commended, by the NAGTEC project coordinator and many workshop attendees, for organising an informative and enjoyable field trip and very successful workshop.

The long term benefits to Ireland, as a result of participation in NAGTEC are predicted to be significant. It is hoped NAGTEC will help support petroleum exploration and further stimulate research offshore Ireland. An additional benefit is the project’s promotion of our territorial waters as a potential exploration area to sponsoring companies, not yet working in the Irish region. This project will also highlight data and knowledge gaps for further exploration and research.

The Irish contribution to the NAGTEC project is co-ordinated by Maria Judge, an INFOMAR consultant at the Geological Survey of Ireland, and employs full time (NAGTEC funded) technical support from a post-doctoral researcher, Dr Kenneth McDermott who is based at the School of Geological Sciences, UCD under the supervision of Prof. Pat Shannon. The GSI wish to extend gratitude to colleagues at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources’ Petroleum Affairs Division of Ireland, for permitting access to the released offshore petroleum exploration data, from which much of our data products were generated.

Further information is available at

Outcrop at Loughshinny
Outcrop at Loughshinny, displaying z folds in inverted Carboniferous basin strata

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