Day 2 had a more terrestrial approach, but with several obvious linkages to the work showcased already. The morning opened with a second keynote address, this time from Professor Stewart Fotheringham of NUI Maynooth, on "The National Centre for Geocomputation and the Strategic Research Cluster in Advanced Technologies (StratAG): Role models for Geoscience Research" . In a thought-provoking address, he outlined how the collaborative SFI-funded group are structured, funded and assessed, how they are tackling some of the "Grand Challenges for Society" and illustrated some of the novel approaches being taken across the areas of research from sensor technology, to algorithms, visualisation and location-based services. While successful linkages have been established with groups including the INFOMAR team at GSI, there is clear scope for collaboration based on complimentary skill sets with many other groups active in the Geoscience Sector.
The first morning session focussed on Groundwater Protection, with a talk on Ireland’s National Groundwater Vulnerability Mapping Programme, followed by well linked presentations from Queen’s University Belfast on research on poorly productive aquifers and NUIG on their Coastal Aquifer Project, the latter two both funded under the Griffiths Awards. This session gave a really good example of how practical applied geoscience infrastructural support, in this case developing planning tools for use by EPA and Local Authorities, can feed into and benefit from research targeted on particular aspects of the work.
The next session dealt with the Basin Studies of UCD under the Griffiths Research programme, with a series of linked talks all seeking to address very clear research goals and leveraging additional opportunities such as industry interest, equipment grants and ship time availability. The Clare drilling initiative is seeking to develop a world class field visit locality for understanding petroleum basins, based on the spectacular coastal exposures of South West Clare. Deep water sedimentary research is another project building on INSS data and multiple other information sources to gain a greater understanding of processes off our western seaboard, while the Sand Provenance Centre is a facility built around a new paradigm in micro-analytical equipment and its smart research application to understanding the source of sediments that are now found in offshore basins.
Carbon Capture & Storage
Carbon Capture & Storage is recognised as a "transition technology" that can help deal with emissions from fossil fuels as we move towards a greater deployment of renewable energy. The third session focussed on CCS with an outline of initiatives GSI is engaged with and hope to develop further, as well as summaries from two research projects focussed on modelling behaviours in this area at UCD and University of Ulster.
Later sessions at the conference dealt with Geohazards, specifically; Landslide Susceptibility Mapping being carried out in response to the GSI led Landslide Working Group and focussed on the areas of greatest economic activity in East Leinster and the greater Cork area. One presentation focused on an Urban Geochemistry Project carried out in the Greater Dublin area, the SURGE Project, where geochemical soil mapping is being used to evaluate soil quality and potentially feeding into decision-making on planning and public health. Another presentation fed into the Infrastructure & Planning theme, specifically the Dublin GeoUrban Project, which is developing an integrated 3D model of the Geology of Ireland’s capital. Another focused on Aggregate Potential Mapping, producing planning and development tools for sand and gravel and potential crushed rock and there was also an update on the successful TELLUS Project in Northern Ireland, which carried out airborne geophysical and soil/stream sediment geochemical mapping over all of Northern Ireland. See page 12 article for details about TELLUS Border, a follow-on project.
Education and Communication
The final session of the conference consisted of three presentations dealing with the critical area of GeoEducation and Communication. Talks covered the benefits of properly organising and cataloguing your data by the CMRC group at UCC, who have now developed a "geoportal" for showcasing available research datasets. The GeoSchol initiative is a consortium led by TCD which has developed Geology-based teaching aids and a website targeted at primary school students. At the opposite end of the spectrum DIAS have led the development of a 4th level training programme of modules for post graduates under the Irish Geology Graduate Programme.