GSI Short Calls Projects

12 projects related to Geohazards were funded through the GSI Short Calls (2015, 2017). Topics covered included landslides, seismicity, coastal erosion, sinkholes development, engineering properties of interglacial deposits, radon and ancient flood plains.​


Lead Applicant: Dr Paul Doherty, Host: Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions

Project Title: Analysis and monitoring strategy of Irish landslides.

Project Description: Over the past decade landslides have received increasing attention due to a number of high profile slope failures. This project aims to extend the previous work conducted by the GSI by undertaking detailed statistical interrogation of the existing landslide database records. The most frequent landslide categories will be determined and the mechanisms linked to the landslide characteristics, including rainfall thresholds. Report


Lead Applicant: Dr Pierre Arroucau, Host: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

Project Title: Natural, man-made and induced seismicity of Ireland: discrimination and hazard

Project Description: This project will develop new tools for the detection and location of seismic events in Ireland and for discrimination between natural earthquakes and man-made events, such as quarry blasts. It will produce a new database of Irish seismicity, to be disseminated through the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN) website. Report


Lead Applicant: Dr Colman Gallagher, Host: University College Dublin

Project Title: Quantifying coastal evolution along Donegal Bay system using remote sensing approaches

Project Description: This project examines the impacts of changing sediment supply, rising sea level and climate change on coastal dune stability, determining relationships between shoreline change rates, beach/dune morphodynamics and near-shore/offshore sediment availability and pathways in Donegal Bay. The research pilots the possible development of an integrated national-scale model of coastal change. Report


Lead Applicant: Dr Mary Bourke, Host: Trinity College Dublin

Project Title: Investigation of Ireland's coastal platforms: location, type and coastal protection

Project Description: Shore platforms are a significant component of Ireland's coastal systems and have the potential to buffer coasts from storm wave hazards. This project will map the distribution of shore platforms and conduct a pilot study to investigate the role that platforms have in the effective attenuation of wave energy. Report


Lead Applicant: Dr Mary Bourke, Host: Trinity College Dublin

Project Title: Innovative approaches to identifying and mapping coastal landslides

Project Description: Landslide data bases are required for the assessment of susceptibility and understanding of risk. Landslide inventories are a time- and resource-intensive activity. This project will explore the use of machine learning algorithms and drone technology to enable a more accurate mapping and inventory-building capability for coastal landslides. Report


Lead Applicant:  Dr Eoghan Holohan, Host:  University College Dublin 

Project Title: 4D Quantification of Salt-related Sinkhole Development and Migration

Project Description: The development of sinkholes ('dolines') is a global geo-hazard. These 1-500 m diameter depressions commonly form by slow or sudden subsidence of rock or soil into underground cavities or fissures, and are linked with groundwater-induced dissolution of limestone, gypsum or rock-salt. In Ireland, several thousand sinkholes exist in limestone areas, but take many millennia to develop. In the Dead Sea region, several thousand sinkholes have developed in rock-salt in the last 35 years, due to an anthropogenically-forced decline of the sea-level. The Dead Sea region is thus the world's foremost 'natural laboratory' for understanding the development of sinkhole populations. The proposed research comprises the first comprehensive spatio-temporal investigation of the many hundreds of sinkholes of the eastern Dead Sea. An MSc student will be trained to quantify the spatio-temporal, morphological and volumetric development of sinkholes there by analysing high-resolution satellite and aerial images and by generating detailed three-dimensional images of the sinkhole area. This will yield new insights into bulk dissolution rates and related kinetics. The student will also undertake analytical hydrogeological modelling of links between sea-level decline and lateral migration of sinkhole development. Strategic project goals include the enhancement of Irish human capacity and international reputation in geo-hazards research. Report


Lead Applicant:  Dr Quentin Crowley, Host:   Trinity College Dublin

Project Title: An All-Ireland Geogenic Indoor Radon Map

Project Description: Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, which can accumulate indoors and result in an elevated risk of developing lung cancer. Globally, radon exposure is the second highest cause of lung cancer, resulting in tens of thousands deaths annually. Ireland has some of the highest levels of radon in Europe and eighth highest of 29 OECD countries.
The EU Council Directive 2013/59/EURATOM defines strategies to reduce exposure to ionising radiation. The directive must be transposed into national legislation by 2018, where it is expressly mentioned that radon exposure has to be addressed in National Action Plans. Predictive models of indoor radon exist for both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, but these have not used a common approach. This proposal will utilise datasets currently held by the GSI, GSNI, the EPA and EA and invigorate north-south research collaboration. This development / demonstration project will almost double the number of georeferenced indoor radon measurements available in the Republic of Ireland and integrate these with the NI dataset, thereby providing over 86,000 measurements. Novel logistic regression methodologies will be utilised, resulting in the first all-Ireland geogenic indoor radon risk map, informing local councils and government agencies on radon prone areas. Report


Lead Applicant: Prof Mike Long, Host:   University College Dublin

Project Title: Distribution and engineering properties of the interglacial deposits in Cork City and Harbour

Project Description: This project will develop an understanding (at a 3D level) of the distribution and engineering properties of the interglacial (Gortian) stiff clay deposits in Cork City and Harbour. In parallel a map of the top of bedrock in the study area will be developed. The project will reassess the existing data in the Geological Survey of Ireland database and make use of data available at Arup, UCD and UCC. Software, with add-ons developed by Arup will be used to derive the required 3D models. Such models clearly advance the quality and value of geological data recording and usage. Given increased urbanisation, a 3D understanding of the engineering behaviour of deposits is essential for the safe and economical design of civil engineering structures. The research question posed is valid, well defined and has direct relevance to Irish industry. It is intend that this project will lead towards proposals for projects under iCRAG or for EU Horizon 2020 type projects. The project will provide a Master's level education to a civil engineering or geology graduate. Report


Lead Applicant: Dr Jonathan Turner, Host: University College Dublin

Project Title: Reconstructing the late Quaternary history of the River Nore using OSL dating

Project Description: This proposal seeks to acquire funding to implement fundamental geoscience research in Quaternary geology. The research project addresses an under-researched area in the Quaternary in an Irish context: fluvial geomorphology. Using the River Nore as a case study catchment, we will implement established techniques in palaeoflood hydrology to assess the development of the floodplain-channel system and evidence of past extreme flooding events, beyond recorded datasets. Advanced geochronological techniques will be applied to date the flood sediments, namely optically stimulated luminescence dating, which has hitherto not been applied to Irish fluvial sediments, generating a novel methodological contribution.
This project falls under the remit of the GSI research strategy, addressing the second challenge, "Risk Mitigation for Geological Hazards". Floodplains are vulnerable areas, and potentially hazardous to those who live and work along river banks. Using methods in palaeoflood hydrology to interpret geological evidence, this research will generate a more thorough understanding of flooding hazard in a lowland river catchment, generating data on the frequency of such events in the geological past. The outcomes will generate impacts in two of the three key areas of the GSI Research Programme: Knowledge and Education; Society and Public Policy. Report


Lead Applicant: Dr Martin Moellhoff, Host: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

Project Title:  Development of the Hekla volcano real-time seismic monitoring network, HERSK

Project Description: In this project we will develop HERSK, the HEkla Real-time Seismic monitoring networK. Hekla is one of the most active and dangerous volcanos in Iceland and currently erupts about every 10 years. The next Hekla eruption is considered overdue and could be hazardous to air travel. During the last major eruption in 1947 the volcanic plume reached a height of about 30km. Hekla is seismically surprisingly quiet, resulting so far in a dangerously short pre-eruption warning time of only around one hour. Although the volcano is currently monitored with several seismometer and GPS installations, the nearest seismic station is about 4km from the summit – too far away to detect microseismicity. We propose a new method of installing seismometers with real-time data transmission directly on top of the volcano, a logistical challenge not yet achieved due to harsh near-summit winter conditions. This will lower the detection threshold of seismic events significantly. The result will be a better scientific understanding of the processes driving the evolution of pre-eruptive seismicity at Hekla and a substantial improvement in early warning capability. All data will stream in near real-time to the seismic data centres in both the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) and DIAS. Report


Lead Applicant: Dr Mary Bourke, Host: Trinity College Dublin

Project Title: Coastal platform geology, classification and roughness

Project Description: Platforms are erosional landforms found on rocky shorelines. They provide important ecosystem services and are significant components of Ireland's coastal systems. Data suggest that platforms slow rates of coastal retreat by attenuating wave energy and protecting the coastline cliffs from direct wave impact. Knowledge of the lithology, surface morphology and roughness of Ireland's platforms will improve understanding of the response of Ireland's coastline to future climate change. The proposed work builds on a previously funded GSI short call project that 1. Produced a map of Irelands coastal platforms; 2. Proposed a new classification for platforms and 3. Tested wave attenuation across a shore platform during summer and winter conditions. The proposed research will:

  1. Map the lithology of Irish coastal platforms using existing national geological data and the map of coastal platforms produced form a 2015 funded GSI short call project.
  2. Field test the Bourke et al, 2016 classification of coastal rock platforms by applying it to seven platform sites around Ireland's coastline.
  3. Quantify the roughness of seven coastal platforms classes using UAV image data to build DTMs

The proposed work falls clearly under the GSI coastal mapping and Geohazards theme. Report


Lead Applicants: Dr Pierre Arroucau / Prof Chris Bean, Host: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

Project Title: Determining a new earthquake local magnitude scale for Ireland

Project Description: In this project, we will investigate the seismic wave attenuation characteristics of the Irish
crust and determine a new local magnitude scale for Ireland. We will utilize the large number of available waveforms recorded at both permanent and temporary seismic networks in the past ten years to measure maximum Sg/Lg amplitudes and associated instantaneous frequencies at all recording stations for the more than 200 new seismic events we recently detected from template waveform cross-correlation. A new software will be developed to simultaneously invert for amplitude decay parameters, station corrections and magnitudes. The inverse problem will be solved by means of a Bayesian, transdimensional inversion scheme that will allow distance dependent attenuation to be considered and accounted for. The new code will be made available to the seismological community, and the new local magnitude scale parameters will be used for routine magnitude determination at the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN). Attenuation characteristics obtained for Ireland will be compared to those previously determined for Great Britain, and the outcome of this work is also expected to help design future induced seismicity monitoring procedures in Ireland. Report