You are here:

The Earth Surface Research Laboratory: a new high-tech laboratory for Ireland

The Earth Surface Research Laboratory: a new high-tech laboratory for Ireland


The Earth Surface Research Laboratory: a new high-tech laboratory for Ireland

Geological Survey Ireland and Trinity College Dublin are launching the Earth Surface Research Laboratory, a new national facility providing state-of-the-art chemical analyses for the geoscience community on the island of Ireland. The laboratory hosts world-class facilities for the preparation and analysis of geological and environmental samples.

Ireland has a fascinating and diverse geology, formed over millions of years through the eruption of volcanoes, the opening and closing of oceans, the slow erosion of towering mountain ranges and finally, the recent glacial events that shaped our landscape. These geological processes have endowed the country with economically important mineral deposits and fertile soils which support a thriving agricultural industry. However, to fully understand Ireland’s geological heritage and sustainably harness its natural resources, we need to know more than the simple distribution of different rock types – we need to know exactly what the rocks are made of, right down to individual elements.

The Earth Surface Research Laboratory hosts a range of advanced equipment to interrogate the geochemistry of rocks and soils. This includes two X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, which can precisely determine elemental abundances down to trace concentrations, an Hg-analyser for specifically determining the abundance of mercury in environmental samples, and an elemental analyser for quantifying organic and inorganic carbon. These instruments are housed within clean rooms to prevent contamination and are supported by expert technical staff.

The laboratory will support Geological Survey Ireland’s Tellus geochemical survey – a major national programme to map elemental concentrations in soils, stream sediments and stream waters across Ireland. It will also be open to academic researchers, SMEs and other geological/environmental groups based on the island of Ireland in a non-commercial capacity. The facilities will enhance the world-class geoscience research conducted on the island of Ireland and will assist projects protecting Ireland’s unique natural environment.

The Earth Surface Research Laboratory launches online on Wednesday 23 June and will be accepting applications for access from interested researchers. Further information and access details can be found on the Earth Surface Research Laboratory website.

Dr Michael Stock, Director of the Earth Surface Research Laboratory, said: “The Earth Surface Research Laboratory is a facility for the whole geoscience community on the island of Ireland, producing high quality data, using the most advanced equipment currently available. Our dual aims are to support national efforts to understand Ireland’s natural environment and to continue building Ireland’s international reputation as a centre for world-class geoscience research.”

Koen Verbruggen, Director of Geological Survey Ireland, a division of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, said: “I am delighted to announce our new collaboration with Trinity College Dublin and the team at the ESRL. This new facility will ensure analyses of our Tellus samples and represents a significant addition to National Geoscience Research facilities.”

Prof. David Chew, Head of Geology at Trinity College Dublin, said: “This very exciting collaboration will be of great value to the geoscience community on the island of Ireland. Geological Survey Ireland’s Tellus programme and geoscience researchers will all benefit from the high-quality geochemical data produced by this state-of-the-art facility”.

Earth Surface Research Laboratory equipment and analyst. Image credit: ESRL.

Geochemical analysis of soil and sediment samples. Image credit: ESRL.

New state-of-the-art analytical facilities in Trinity College Dublin, supported by Geological Survey Ireland for use by researchers based on the island of Ireland. Image credit: ESRL.


Media Contact

Thomas Deane
Media Relations Officer, Trinity College Dublin
Email: | Tel: 086 787 0748

Dr Michael Stock
Director of the Earth Surface Research Laboratory, Assistant Professor in Geochemistry, Trinity College Dublin
Email: | Tel: 089 610 3724

Notes for Editors
Geological Survey Ireland is the National Earth Science centre. It is responsible for providing geological advice and information, and for the acquisition of data for this purpose. Geological Survey Ireland produces a range of products including maps, reports and databases and acts as a knowledge center and project partner in all aspects of Irish geology.

Geological Survey Ireland is a division of the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).

The Tellus survey is a national programme to gather geochemical and geophysical data across Ireland – in other words, to examine the chemical and physical properties of our soil, rocks and water. ‘Tellus’ was the Roman goddess of the earth, also called Terra Mater.

The Tellus geochemistry programme maps the trace elements from soils and streams of regions of Ireland. Using modern scientific methods we are able to create a regional scale map of the geochemistry of the near surface.​

Data and maps from Tellus and Geological Survey Ireland are available free of charge at and