Volvo Ocean Race
Geology Matters 12
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Volvo Ocean Race
Dr. Janine Guinan, Geological Survey of Ireland 
European Marine Projects Co-ordinator

The VOLVO Ocean Race 2012 concluded in Galway on 3 July with events running from Friday, June 30 through to Sunday, July 8. The INFOMAR programme ( was well represented with an information stand at the VOLVO Global Village and the RV Keary survey vessel offering vessel tours to the public. As the national seabed mapping programme, INFOMAR was present at the event to inform on the survey coverage achieved to date, along with providing information to visitors on different aspects of the programme from new survey data acquisition to hydrographic standards. The harbours, bays and areas around Ireland’s coast, some of which have not been mapped since the admiralty charts of the 1800’s are benefiting from INFOMAR survey data. This can also inform on suitable locations for ocean energy devices, acquaculture sites and offshore development, harnessing offshore wind, wave and tidal energy.

Koen Verbruggen of the GSI, joint INFOMAR project manager with the Marine Institute, presented ‘Mapping Ireland’s Seabed – how and why?’ at the Global Village on Friday, 6 July as part of the Ocean Wealth Events Programme Focus on the Marine Environment, Deep Sea Ecosystems and Climate Change. The presentation highlighted the importance of mapping to the VOLVO racing boats as without accurate information on water depth, Galway Bay would be hazardous to sailors and boat users who run the risk of running aground. An example was cited from nearby Mannin Bay where a previously unknown shoal was mapped by the INFOMAR programme that would have otherwise proved hazardous to vessels. Aside from highlighting the importance of INFOMAR to marine safety and charting, the role of environmental protection was cited with the INFOMAR data used to designate Marine Special Areas of Conservation, and guiding seabed sampling for environmental monitoring. Reference was also made to the expenditure on the programme to date and the fact that it’s prospective financial return to Ireland has been independently valued at more than 4 times its cost.
INFOMAR exhibit in the Global Village
The INFOMAR exhibit in the Global Village attracted large numbers of visitors to hear about the national seabed mapping programme

Among the areas developed by INFOMAR are applied research utilising the marine mapping data generated and it is interesting to note that two of the five Smart Ocean Innovator award winners announced during the VOLVO week, are former and current INFOMAR research partners, Techworks and SonarSim.

RV Keary open to the public for vessel tours

On board the RV Keary
At the Galway VOLVO Ocean Race 2012 visitors receive a tour of the INFOMAR survey vessel, the RV Keary, and while onboard, discover Galway Bay in 3D

The RV Keary was open to the public at the Volvo event. Members of the public were welcomed onboard by the INFOMAR team which consisted of the skippers, surveyors and data processors who work onboard the Keary. Visitors received an introduction to the vessel with the team describing the equipment onboard used to gather information on water depths and seabed bottom type. A tour of the bridge provided the visitors with an insight into the work of a skipper and surveyor during a typical day at sea.

INFOMAR 2012 Annual Seminar 
The Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute would like to extend an invitation to all interested parties to attend the 2012 Annual INFOMAR Seminar.

The two day event will take place October 11-12 at University College Cork, Ireland. The seminar will include an update on Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme including survey operations and coverage, future plans, thematic sessions on marine sectors, associated research along with poster sessions and vessel tours aboard the RV Keary. The seminar is free and open to all, however, numbers are limited so please confirm attendance by emailing by Friday, 28 September 2012.

Make the most of your visit to Cork by attending the GeoSeas International Workshop taking place at the same venue 9-10 October 2012. The workshop will present the results of this European Commission funded project and provide demonstrations of tools and services for the discovery, assessment and access to a range of marine geosciences datasets. The workshop will also include a number of keynote presentations by invited speakers from the international marine research community and other related fields. For more information see