GSI Short Calls Projects

GSI Short Calls Projects

Below is the list of Groundwater related funded projects as part of the GSI Short Calls. ​


Lead Applicant: Dr Ulrich Ofterdinger, Host: Queen's University Belfast

Project Title: Determining fractured bedrock aquifer parameters using magnetic resonance sounding to better constrain numerical groundwater models in support of catchment scale water resource management.

Project Description: The project will investigate the relationship between key hydrogeological parameters within fractured bedrock aquifers across varying scales of observation using Magnetic Resonance Sounding in order to provide more certainty with regard to assessing groundwater flow paths and contaminant transport processes within the framework of catchment scale water resource management.  Report


Lead Applicant: Prof Laurence Gill, Host: Trinity College Dublin

Project Title: Characterisation of stable isotope fractionations during reactive transport of phosphate in groundwater discharging to a groundwater fed lake (Lough Gur, Co Limerick)

Project Description: Lake groundwater discharge is often overlooked and the focus of this study is the novel application of phosphate (δ18OP) as a tracer of P to a groundwater fed lake. Other established isotope techniques will characterise the source of water and biogeochemical processes contributing to nutrient cycling within the lake. Report

Lead Applicant: Dr Liam Morrisson, Host: NUI, Galway

Project Title: Linking sources of contamination of groundwater resources with naturally occurring arsenic in metasedimentary rock in Ireland

Project Description: Elevated arsenic concentrations have been reported at certain locations around Ireland as a result of routine testing of drinking water supplies under Ireland's Water Framework Directive (WFD) obligations. The project will investigate the origin and mobilisation of geogenic arsenic in groundwater flowing through fractured metasedimentary bedrock aquifers. Report 


Lead Applicant: Mr Coran Kelly, Host: Tobin Consulting

Project Title: Production of a handbook of karst for Irish hydrogeologists

Project Description: The compilation of a guide to the main characteristics of the hydrogeology of karstified limestone and how best to investigate groundwater in karst, with particular regard to Ireland. It will be of use primarily, to practicing hydrogeologists and allied specialists who lack formal training in karst hydrogeology but who may be required to undertake work in karst. Report


Lead Applicant: Dr Kirstin Lemon, Host: Geological Survey of Northern Ireland

Project Title: All-Ireland karst features dataset

Project Description: This project will extend the GSI Karst Features dataset north to produce an all-Ireland dataset so that the full extent of Irish karst can be properly visualised and appreciated. It will assess the viability of spatial dataset interpretation to identify karst features combined with ground truthing verification across two sites. Report


Lead Applicant: Prof Laurence Gill, Host: Trinity College Dublin 

Project Title: Submarine groundwater discharge from the Burren plateau into Galway Bay

Project Description: Submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) constitutes an important pathway for contaminant transport into the coastal environment predominantly in karst areas. However, locating and determining the source of a suspected submarine discharge is a challenge. While there are abundant studies on the detection and quantification of SGD, there are remarkably few attempts that actually trace the origin of SGD from the onshore catchment using (artificial) tracers.
This proposed study will design a tracer method to study SiGD and SGD applied in the catchment of Bell Harbour, Burren, to be executed along the current research project "Characterisation of diffuse recharge into karst aquifers using chemical and numerical modelling techniques" conducted in the framework of ICRAG until September 2019. Current findings of this projects proved the existence of deep conduits >130 m below sea level that appear to be active carrying water from the catchment offshore into Galway Bay. The exact locations shall be determined, using both insoluble (solid) tracers, (i.e. floating tracers small enough to pass through the main conduits and large enough to detect them on the sea water surface/on the shore) and common artificial soluble tracers such as fluorescein and/or rhodamine to be detected using highly sensitive fluorometers. 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 analyzing 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 Shane Regan, Host:  Trinity College Dublin

Project Title: Iso-Mech (Development of a national groundwater isoscape for mechanistic recharge estimation and bacterial fingerprinting)

Project Description: In recent years, the concept of "isoscapes" has been used to describe spatiotemporal stable isotope distributions within natural environments including groundwater systems at multiple scales. They have effectively improved our understanding of the complex interactions between hydrological and biogeochemical cycles. Precipitation isoscapes drive isotopic patterns in surficial waters, however, less is known about the geological influence of recharge processes on stable isotopes in the subsurface. A recent study of the oxygen-18 (δ18O) groundwater isoscape in Ireland found that δ18O composition is primarily driven by location with respect to prevailing wind direction and annual precipitation volume, with a bias towards winter recharge. Results also indicate that local/regional (hydro)geology exerts a secondary influence via infiltration/recharge mechanisms. However, the study was limited by the absence of deuterium (δD) measurements and temporal data; seasonal monitoring is necessary to confidently discern temporal patterns, while δD is required for quantification of evapotranspiration (δD excess). The proposed study (Iso-Mech) will seasonally analyse δ18O and δD from spatially distributed groundwater and rainfall stations to i) improve our understanding of precipitation origin, evaporative effects and estimated recharge rates, and ii) use results to conservatively trace bacterial (E. coli) ingress mechanisms with respect to the Irish groundwater environment. Report


Lead Applicant: Dr David O'Connell, Host: Trinity College Dublin

Project Title: Fluorescence-based tracking of particles from domestic wastewater treatment system plumes discharging to springs in Karst aquifer systems

Project Description: Particulates can play a significant role in the transport of microbial contamination in karst water, however significant knowledge gaps exist addressing the movement of domestic wastewater treatment system (DWTS) (>500,000 DWTSs in Ireland) effluent through networks of fractured rock conduits in aquifer systems enabling extensive transport well beyond the source. Karst aquifer systems are prone to particulate contamination within conduits with long travel distances. While there are abundant studies on the detection of contaminants in karst groundwater, few studies actually address transport of DTWS particulate contaminants to karst springs.
This proposed study will investigate the significance of DTWS particulate contaminant transport to karst springs and design a fluorescence based "early warning detection" technique based on flow regimes and associated pollutants using fluorescence excitation emission matrix (EEMs) and parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC) analysis. This project will run concurrently to the research project "The impact of on-site wastewater effluent on karst springs" which is part of the iCRAG research portfolio until 2020. Preliminary results show successful use of non-conventional tracer techniques at other karst springs which will be integrated in this project into adaptive management strategies using advance fluorescence techniques to protect Karst water resources under population growth, changing climate and land use. 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 Eve Daly, Host: NUI, Galway

Project Title: Geophysical remote sensing of subsurface properties for sustainable agricultural management

Project Description: This proof of concept project will start by integrating airborne and ground geophysics with remote
sensing to access surface and subsurface permeability variations over a Teagasc Agricultural Catchment which is covered by existing Tellus data, in the context of agricultural management. The project will explore the best methods to then upscale to Water Framework Directive scale catchments and the tools and international collaborations needed to build a functional land
management tool for the sustainable management of agricultural intensification envisioned in Food Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025.
This multidisciplinary proposal is aligned with three Short Call research themes 1) Geophysics, 2) Groundwater Resources and Protection 3) Quaternary Geology of Ireland. The project will develop a new research programme covering hydrogeophysics, soil science and catchment science building on expertise gained in the 2007 Griffith Geoscience Award to NUIG and develop the recent collaborations between Teagasc (Ireland's Agricultural and food development authority) and NUIG
and the Geological Survey of Ireland. Report


Lead Applicant: Dr Jean O'Dwyer, Host: University of Limerick

Project Title: Groundwater Risk App for Local Evaluations (GRAppLE)

Project Description: Private groundwater sources in the Republic of Ireland currently provide daily drinking water to an
estimated 750,000 people, with recent Irish research reporting that groundwater users have an increased risk of enteric infection from waterborne pathogens. However, due to the dispersed, decentralised and ubiquitous nature of private wells in Ireland, appropriate monitoring, maintenance, and remediation is both complex and financially prohibitive via a "Top Down"
approach. Accordingly, a "Bottom Up" approach, whereby individual custodianship is facilitated, will aide in safeguarding public health at the household level. This project will utilise existing Irish data on microbial ingress to groundwater coupled with mobile device technology to develop a Groundwater Risk App for Local Evaluation (GRAppLE). A simplified risk model will be created to provide a risk assessment equation for use with GPS tracking and a "fetch and entry" function. Using user-derived data and publically available shapefiles/databases, GRAppLE will narrow the gap between laboratory science, social engagement, and "pocket technology", thus representing the first, holistic device application that provides a live source-specific risk assessment to private well users in Ireland. By putting science in the publics hands, it is believed that public stewardship will be promoted, thus safeguarding both public and ecological health. Report