2020 Short Call Projects

2020 Short Call Projects

Prof Chris Bean | Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

Mapping weather & climate indices using seismic data (SeisStorm)

The wind and wave climate of the NE Atlantic is very variable and energetic, exposing Ireland to potentially more extreme conditions with the changing climate but at the same time offering huge potential for renewable energy extraction. Global atmospheric circulation patterns and the ocean wave climate are deeply connected through the role of surface winds in the generation of ocean waves. At the same time, wind-driven ocean-wave-generate continuous Earth vibrations are produced at the seafloor and observed all over the world, defining a complex atmospheric coupling, via the oceans, with the solid Earth. Using new continuous seismic data (~18 months) recorded on the seafloor during the SEA-SEIS experiment, this project (SeisStorm) aims to uncover the seismic signature associated with North Atlantic storm tracks that fluctuate with the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). To do so, a methodology will be developed to extract long-term weather information from ocean and land seismic data by mapping the fluctuations of the "seismic" storm track in the NE Atlantic. In the context of a changing climate, the outcomes of the project will benefit research on NE Atlantic storm track dynamics, for an alternative evaluation of likely more frequent extreme.


Mr Dave Blaney | BRG Ltd

Energy Critical Element Characterisation of Irish Mineral Deposits

The Green Agenda and decarbonisation of the energy supply means that specialist metals will be required to facilitate the transformation. Energy critical elements such as, Indium, Gallium and Germanium, currently play a major role in photovoltaic cell production and subsequent utilisation of solar energy. The bulk of the world's supply comes from China and the EU is concerned about security of supply, it is evaluating the potential to source these metals within its own borders. Ireland is a world renown base metal province, with large, high grade, Zn / Pb deposits. "Irish Type" deposits are a variant of Mississippi Valley Type deposits but differ in that they have been deposited from a higher temperature hydrothermal fluid. Accordingly, many Irish deposits have an exotic and unusual trace element signature, including the elevated copper and nickel found at Lisheen / Galmoy and high concentrations of germanium in a satellite zone near the Pallas Green deposit. Ireland's recent mining history has been focused on the exploitation of conventional metals (Zn, Pb, Cu and Ag) from its mining operations. The potential of minor or exotic metals was not a priority. However, given that Indium, Gallium and Germanium are produced as a by-product of zinc mining it is time to assess/evaluate how much Ireland might have and where it is located.

Dr Gordon Bromley | National University of Ireland, Galway

Quantifying Ireland's Dust Bowl: An interdisciplinary assessment of potential loess genesis, deposition, and dynamics in the Burren

The Burren is an iconic example of glacio-karst. While its expansive limestone pavements support a sparse, patchy soil cover today, a growing body of evidence suggests this cover was greater in the geologically recent past, prompting the questions: How did soils originate on a glaciated limestone substrate? Where have these soils gone subsequently? Our focus here is the first question. Our preliminary excavations revealed an apparently homogenous deposit at multiple sites in the Burren, including dolines, grikes, caves, and hillsides. Pilot geochemical and grain-size analyses describe a quartz-rich silt that cannot be attributed to local bedrock. While previous researchers have speculated that similar deposits are aeolian silt ('loess'), the Burren sediments have escaped rigorous geologic assessment; existing maps do not include these deposits. We will evaluate grain size, geochemistry, stratigraphy, botanical content, and age of the Burren's surficial sediments to resolve sediment origin, transport, and post-depositional evolution. These data will help establish whether the silts are indeed loess and if this was the parent material for the lost Burren soils. As well as providing a field-based analysis of a significant, hitherto undocumented geologic unit, this work impacts ecological/botanical and archaeological interests, with ramifications for assessing geological vulnerability and climate-geomorphology dynamics.

Dr Colman Gallagher |University College Dublin

Extraction of Historic DEMs and Orthophotos using Digital Photogrammetry and its Applications in Coastal Evolution Studies

It has been documented that shorelines along South-eastern Irish coast is eroding at an average rate of 3-0.5 m/year (OPW, 2010; Mathew et al., 2018). While two dimensional changes in shoreline position, based on mapping of aerial photographs have been commonly used, determination of volumes of sediment transport and detailed sediment budgets have been rare because of the difficulty and/or expense of obtaining elevational changes over substantial distances alongshore. Repeated lidar and UAV surveys permit changes in topography to be determined (e.g. impact of storms) on beach dune systems; however, this still leaves the problem of how to obtain historical data at a similar spatial scale. Advances in digital photogrammetry offers a relatively low-cost solution to this problem and the potential for construction of DEMs at a resolution like that of lidar and UAV. This investigation will test the viability of generating high resolution historic DEMs and Orthophotos from 1955, 1971 and 1995 aerial photos by scanning Film negatives at 4000 DPI. This proposal could be a pilot study for developing an integrated system of modelling shoreline change and sediment budgets that will integrate measurements in a range of spatial-temporal scales, which can be used for the entire Irish coastline.

Dr David Igoe | Trinity College Dublin

Pile Ageing Study for Offshore Wind Applications

In order to achieve the greenhouse gas emissions targets set out in the Paris agreement, Ireland will need to significantly decarbonise its energy supply. Due to reducing costs, offshore wind now offers the most viable means for large scale decarbonisation of Irelands electricity supply by 2030. The new program for government 2020 has targeted 5GW of offshore wind capacity to be installed by 2030 at an estimated cost of more than €10 billion. At the end of 2019 there was 22 GW of offshore wind installed in Europe, mainly in areas near shore with favourable shallow water conditions. The foundations of an offshore wind turbine can represent up to 25% of the overall cost of development and more than 90% of offshore wind turbines installed to date are fixed to the seabed using steel piled foundations. This project aims to investigate pile ageing effects, one of the key challenges facing offshore foundation designers. This will be achieved through a combination of novel field and laboratory testing, and will lead to significant advances in scientific knowledge in Geotechnical Engineering and improvements in the design efficiency of Offshore Renewables.

Dr Margaret Jackson | Trinity College Dublin

Abrupt Climate Change in Ireland: Redefining our climate future through a lens of high-resolution glacial reconstruction

Projecting accurately the impacts of future climate change on Ireland depends on understanding the mechanisms that drove similar changes in the past. However, the lack of spatially diverse climate records from terrestrial regions represents a persistent, fundamental knowledge gap which hinders the viability of current modelling efforts. We propose to exploit the unique glacialgeomorphic record preserved in the Glen of Imaal to reconstruct past abrupt climate change in Ireland and provide critical ground-truthing for CMIP6 models projecting future climate. Our temporal focus is the Last Glacial Termination, when Earth's climate transitioned from glacial to interglacial climate, and which was characterised by abrupt 'jumps' in atmospheric temperature that are potential analogues for anthropogenic climate change today. Through detailed glacialgeomorphic mapping and cosmogenic beryllium-10 surface-exposure dating, this project will determine the timing, sign, and magnitude of past glacial fluctuations in the Glen of Imaal throughout the termination. These data will permit us to reconstruct past regional temperature change during target abrupt climate shifts, thereby providing direct, Ireland-specific targets for climate modellers. This work will also comprise a portion of the Irish Ice Age Trail, a new collaborative venture to develop and deliver interactive educational materials to schools, third-level institutions, and public audiences.

Ms Vivienne Kelly | Compass Informatics Ltd

Using Earth Observation (Satellite) imagery for offshore renewable energy site selection and constraint analysis

The proposed project will deliver a multi-criteria methodology for optimum site selection for offshore renewable energy. It will evaluate existing methodologies and identify a methodology suitable for Ireland. The methodology will be implemented using primarily Earth Observation data from the European Space Agency and with algorithms scripted to support a hierarchical selection process. This methodology will be informed by industry stakeholders. The output will be a site suitability index visualised within a map format for the Irish maritime territory. Using Earth Observation data, coupled with GSI data, the methodology will provide a high-level, or broad-brush overview of site suitability analysis at a national scale. It will provide a good platform for further research, discussion and iterative integration of further high-resolution datasets, as they become available in this area. The site selection model will be further refined with the integration of high resolution climate change prediction models. The recently published, high resolution ICHEC climate change prediction model will be used to refine the site suitability index, so industry users of the model will gain an understanding of the long term suitability of the site, in the context of climate change.

Dr Jennifer Keenahan | University College Dublin

Developing seabed scour assessment and prediction tools using computational fluid dynamics modelling (DeMo)

Ireland's expansive marine resource has the potential to provide significant economic growth through the development of critical infrastructure such as offshore renewable energy installations. However, seabed hydrodynamics, morphodynamics and, in particular, scour (the process of seabed erosion due to shear stresses generated by currents/waves) represent significant geological risks to the stability of such infrastructure from an environmental and engineering perspective. Predicting scour can be difficult due to vagaries about hydrodynamic conditions. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is an advanced modelling technique that solves problems of fluid flow. The DeMo project will primarily use CFD modelling, validated by traditional seabed mapping results, to help better understand seabed hydrodynamics and scour development in the Irish Sea. A MEngSc candidate will be dedicated to the DeMo project and the project will draw on expertise at the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geoscience to develop a scour prediction tool and methodology using CFD. This tool and scour assessment methodology will support sustainable marine infrastructure development and project de-risking through engagement with industry partners such as ARUP and GDG, who are directly involved in such projects.

Dr Duygu Kiyan | Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

RAFTA: Resolution Analyses for Frequency- and Time-Domain Airborne Electromagnetic Data of the Irish Tellus Programme

The Tellus programme, operated by the Geological Survey Ireland, is a national programme gathering geochemical and airborne geophysical data across Ireland. As part of the geophysics programme, time-domain electromagnetic data were measured in one survey block in 2014 and frequency-domain data have been acquired in other data blocks since 2011. The subsurface resolution capabilities of both datasets are currently poorly understood. Project RAFTA will examine the resolution capabilities of both the frequency-domain and time-domain data and will consider all aspects of the data, including flight height, system noise and anthropogenic noise, which affect the resolution. The resistivity models and model resolutions derived from recorded data will be tested against other constraints where available that will include borehole logs, wireline resistivity logs and ERT sections, where possible at test locations of interest in groundwater, bedrock mapping and Quaternary mapping. Model resolution will also be assessed using synthetic data examples for a wide range of subsurface geological structures. The maximum depth of investigation provided by these data are well suited for investigation of, e.g., overburden thickness; nature of overburden material, including Quaternary deposits; depth to bedrock; bedrock lithology and lithological variation with depth and subsurface aquifers. Understanding the resolution capabilities of both data types and models will greatly enhance the ability of model end-users to use the models and confidently interpret the features in them.

Dr Ivan Lokmer | University College Dublin

Amplification of seismic rotations due to subsurface heterogeneities

The seismic waves responsible for shaking civil engineering structures undergo interference, focusing, scattering, and diffraction by the inhomogeneous medium encountered along the source-to-site propagation path. The subsurface heterogeneities at a site can particularly alter the local seismic wave field and amplify the ground rotations, thereby increasing the seismic hazard. This project aims to (i) quantify these amplifications in ground rotations and (ii) evaluate the impact of these amplifications on the seismic response of civil engineering structures. A probabilistic framework will be adopted in which the subsurface heterogeneities will be described through fluctuations in wave velocity and density superimposed on a homogeneous background elastic medium. These fluctuations, in turn, will be described via stochastic parameters and an ensemble of 'random' media will be generated for several sets of these parameters. The translational and rotational motions will then be simulated for each random medium and finally the statistical trends of the amplified ground rotations will be determined. To reduce the computational cost, a first-order perturbation approach together with the classical wavenumber-integration approach will be used for simulating the seismic motions. The project will end by examining the contribution of the amplified rotations to the response of structures idealized as linearly elastic 2-D frames.

Mr Donal Lennon | iGeoSpatial Modelling Ltd

Real time Monitoring of landslides using remote sensing approaches

Soft clay cliff coasts are dynamic environments that can retreat very quickly in response to wave energy, coastal slope, beach width and height, and intensity, duration, and frequency of storm as well as with sea level rise. In this investigation short-term changes and factors contributing to clay cliffs erosion along Ballyconnigar, Co. Wexford will be quantified using a range of remote sensing techniques such as time lapse videos, terrestrial laser scan, UAV, GPS surveys paired with meteorological and geophysical instrumentation to record cliff retreat over a period of fourteen months. Time series of digital elevation models constructed from these surveys will allow us to develop a heat map of the study area showing several geomorphological indicators describing coastal dynamics. Time lapse videos will allow us to better understand the evolution of the cliffs over a range of time scales from hours to days, weeks, and months. Installation of an onsite weather station and other geophysical instrumentation will give us a better understanding of the factors contributing to the slumping of cliffs along this section. Lessons learned from this project will be used to extend the approach and methodology to other critically eroding shorelines along Irish coast.

Dr Stephen Nash | National University of Ireland, Galway

Linking ocean model predictions with coastal impacts using a low cost, time-lapse camera shoreline monitoring system

There is an urgent need to increase our understanding of coastal change so that that we can better protect coastal communities and ecology, particularly in light of future climate change. Rather than simply understanding rates of coastal change we need to better understand the linkages between coastal change and environmental drivers such as storms. This project aims to establish, test and validate a low-cost shoreline monitoring system using fixed, time-lapse cameras at a test site -Brandon Bay, Co. Kerry. Images will be captured at high frequency (every 10 mins) over 10 months and analysed to determine wave run-up and shoreline elevation changes. The monitoring will be supplemented by shoreline surveys before and after high intensity storm events. The observed data will be used to calibrate and validate a coupled tide-wave-morphological modelling system that is under development in a separate PhD project and the modelled and observed data will in turn be used to improve our understanding of the critical drivers of shoreline change in the study area.

Dr Ulrich Ofterdinger | Queen's University Belfast

Groundwater-g - Supporting Groundwater Resources Management using Low-Cost Microgravity Technology

Groundwater plays a major role in supplying water to millions of people globally. Across Ireland, groundwater contributes up to 75% of water supplies in some counties and provides crucial baseflow contributions to streams and wetlands, thereby sustaining flow regimes and ecosystem health, respectively. At the same time as water resources are threatened by climate extremes, water demand continues to increase with competing demands from domestic, industrial, and agricultural sectors. Thus, sustainable management of groundwater resources is crucial for communities' resilience and economic development. Cost-effective groundwater monitoring is a key challenge. Installing and maintaining borehole networks is often costly and impractical due to lack of land access. The recent breakthrough invention of a 'gravimeter-on-a-chip' using a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) provides an exciting new sensor to overcome these limitations at a fraction of cost. The project will evaluate the feasibility of new MEMS gravimeter technology as a low-cost non-intrusive method for monitoring groundwater storage fluctuations and for determining key aquifer parameters across Irish bedrock aquifers on a relevant scale for catchment-scale water resource management. The project will advance the generic scientific understanding regarding the hydrogeological application of microgravity methods and establish the new low-cost sensor technology in the field of hydrogeological studies for the first time.

Dr Neil Ogle | Queen's University Belfast

Delivering Added Value to the Tellus Survey: A Multi-elemental Isotopic Database of Soil and Stream Water

Since 2004, Tellus surveys north and south of the Irish border have gathered considerable geochemical and geophysical data of soils, rocks and stream water. However, there remains a paucity of isotopic data from the collected media. The Stable Isotope Facility (SIF) at Queen's University Belfast specialises in the isotopic analysis of CNHOS: carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur from solid matter and water. This project proposes to isotopically analyse the soil, its carbonate and surficial water from samples collected in the recent Tellus surveys, create an extensive database of results and present the data as GIS-derived "isoscapes". Such isotopic information will add to the multi-elemental isotopic soil and soil carbonate data already analysed and published by SIF as part of the original Tellus Border survey. Besides contributing to the academic knowledge database, analysed data will additionally provide vital "real world" information of use to various economic and industrial enterprises for example, agri-food, climate modelling and environmental policy development, all sectors in which project partner, Teasgasc, the Agricultural and Food Development Authority is an important contributor.

Prof Patrick Orr | University College Dublin

Assessing the potential of Holocene shellbeds in Galway Bay as palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimate archives

Cores of Holocene sediments from Galway Bay include shellbeds, an underused data source critical to reconstructing the bay's recent palaeoenvironmental and sedimentary history. Examples may include the "Turritella Layer": the marine palaeobiological record of a short term climatic cooling event ("the 8.2kyr event"). Others formed via sedimentological processes; their taphonomy and biofabric reflects the processes involved and environmental context. We will resolve the origin of representative examples of shellbeds via the first comprehensive analysis of their microstratigraphy, ecology and taphonomy. Doing so has significant wider implications. The primary objective is to elucidate if some represent a biological response to environmental change in the past that is potentially relevant to present-day freshening of the North Atlantic. Similar shellbeds occur in other Holocene successions offshore Ireland. Objective 2 is to provide a tool to help understand better the 3D subsurface geology of offshore shallow marine sites that can make better use of existing core archives, and be applied in future investigations. Such data is relevant to topics including the siting of maritime infrastructure and quantifying offshore georesources. The project therefore brings added value to research priorities of the GSI, several current national programmes, plus various government agencies and commercial bodies.

Dr Michael O'Shea | University College Cork

BIM integrated Geo hazard monitoring of at risk slopes and historical retaining structures

Integrating building information models (BIM) and live sensor data is currently limited to infrastructure projects such as large building, road and rail projects. The benefits of the application of this technology to areas such as asset management and environmental monitoring have yet to be realised. The virtual representation of geo hazards such as soil slopes and historic retaining walls in a BIM environment offers potential for in depth geotechnical assessment. The combination of 3D dimensional representation with real time sensor data increases the range of benefits including real time risk assessment during extreme events and undertaking longer term climate change impact assessments of at risk slopes. Cobh, Co. Cork, an area littered with geo hazards, is an ideal study site to implement a pilot study into real-time monitoring and BIM. This project will integrate decades of archive monitoring with real time sensor data and updated soil modelling on a BIM platform to produce high value low cost results and an increased understanding of the risks of individual geo hazards in the area.

Dr Paul Slezak | University College Dublin

Hyperspectral Analysis of the Mourne Mountains (HAMM)

Critical metals are a vital resource for high technologies and green energy production, but their occurrences in Ireland are poorly constrained. The Mourne Mountain Complex (MMC) is a subalkaline igneous suite prospective for critical metals, including rare earth elements (REE) and high field strength elements (HFSE). However, no detailed studies on the MMC or its critical metal occurrences exist, partly due to the complex's rugged nature. This project aims to analyse samples from the MMC using hyperspectral analyses with the Geological Survey Ireland's hyperspectral scanner and to identify the causes for the hyperspectral signatures using geochemical analyses at the Earth Surface Research Laboratory (ESRL) in TCD and the National Centre for Isotope Geochemistry (NCIG) in UCD. The results of these analyses will then be checked against remote sensing data from the ASTER data sets released by NASA with the ultimate goal of synthesising a geologic map using hyperspectral remote sensing data. The hyperspectral and geochemical databases, methodologies and techniques for ASTER data reduction, and creation of a critical metal prospectivity map for the MMC are expected to provide valuable information for future researchers and government agencies and to encourage interest by private industry for Irish critical metals.