Dr. Peadar McArdle
Director, Geological Survey of Ireland
Geoscience: Poised to assist economic recovery (download presentation slides)
Ireland’s is a small open economy in which the geoscience sector in 2006 contributed 3% of GNP and employed 30,000. Ireland now stands at the cusp of economic recovery and recent developments in education, innovation and infrastructure render geoscience particularly amenable to contribute. I will speak of two key Government investments in geoscience, seabed mapping (information infrastructure to support new enterprise) and Griffith Awards (building research capacity) and spotlight cross-border aspects. The sector has the potential to increase exports of knowledge-based services as well as to attract FDI in exploration investment. The sector shares a remarkable clarity on future opportunities and is committed to economic growth.
Dr. Peadar Mc Ardle is a Professional Geologist who received his Ph.D. from the National University of Ireland. His early career was spent in the minerals sector, having spent some years on mineral exploration in Africa and as mine geologist at the Silvermines zinc-lead mine in Ireland. He continued in the minerals sector after joining the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) until he was appointed as its Director in 1992. Since his appointment the GSI has refocused its strategy to deliver integrated geological services to a range of key national sectors, including the marine, water supplies, energy, environment, education and heritage. In recent years GSI, jointly with the Irish Marine Institute, has been responsible for managing a major national programme of seabed mapping.
Mr. Garth Earls
Director, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland
How geoscience is changing Northern Ireland: A Geological Survey's Perspective (download presentation slides)
Northern Ireland has a greater geological diversity than any similar area on planet Earth, and is often considered the ideal size to undertake regional scientific research. TELLUS is a geoscience research project that has influenced policy, promoted inward investment and engaged the public. The project has won national and international awards for encouraging mineral exploration, for innovation in GIS and for communicating science.
From 2004 to 2007, the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (staffed by geoscientists from the British Geological Survey) collected detailed airborne geophysical measurements and sampled soils and streams at 10,000 sites over the region. Northern Ireland is now the most comprehensively geo-environmentally sampled country in the world.
Although many science disciplines are using the TELLUS data, two of the most valuable fields of research are for the extractive industries and the environmental sector. This diversity of application illustrates the need and value of geoscience data in apparently disparate areas.
Before the TELLUS project commenced, 15% of Northern Ireland was under licence for natural resource exploration, but when the data was released more than 70% of the country became licenced. Local, national and international research partnerships were established with universities and companies to assess the metallogenesis of the region. This has resulted in an increase in exploration expenditure from less than £1 million to in excess of £20 million and represents a return on investment of greater than 300% in four years.
Innovative environmental applications and results include: new definitive geochemical baselines; mapping the effects of intrusive aquicludes on groundwater flow and recharge; soil carbon mapping by integrating airborne gamma-ray measurements with soil analyses; correlation of human and animal health parameters with geochemistry and radioactivity; the first calibrated map of Chernobyl fall-out; a new approach to predictive mapping of radon risk; geothermal energy research and determining the optimal locations for natural gas storage caverns in salt beds.
The current and future direction of public sector-led Geosciences in both Northern Ireland and in the cross-border context with Republic of Ireland will be discussed.
Before becoming Director of GSNI in 2002, Garth worked in the exploration and mining industry for 23 years. He was part of the team that discovered gold in Northern Ireland in the 1980s and has also worked in the Cononish gold mine in Scotland. He then became a partner in the CSA Group, one of Europe’s leading geological consultancies, where he worked on a global basis for companies searching for gold and base metals. Since joining GSNI, he has managed the data collection phase of the award-winning Tellus project and he has developed projects relating to landscape tourism and the public understanding of science. From 2006-2009, he chaired the Geosciences Committee of the Royal Irish Academy. In 2008 Garth accepted the country award on behalf of GSNI at the Mines and Money Conference in London; the leading event for the global mining and investment sectors.
Prof. Pat Shannon
Professor of Geology, University College Dublin
The role of academia in training, research and innovation (download presentation slides)
Ireland, like the rest of the world, faces the twin challenges of energy supply and the protection of the environment. The world’s energy demand is projected to double by 2050 while we must also half our greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid catastrophic climatic consequences. The geosciences community will play a key role in tackling these challenges in the coming decades. This will require a detailed understanding of the subsurface and of geological processes, innovative thinking and a new generation of multidisciplinary geoscientists. Academia will play an important role in providing the training, research and ideas. Academic-industry collaborative development will be a critical ingredient in future development and growth of geosciences.
Examples of recent marine and petroleum geosciences research in the North Atlantic will illustrate the potential of such collaborative research. A new geosciences training initiative based on recent and ongoing behind-outcrop drilling at the classic West Clare Basin localities on the Loop Head peninsula will help to provide a better understanding of reservoir analogues and 3D sedimentary architecture. The current and future direction of Earth Sciences in Irish academic institutions will be discussed.
Patrick M. Shannon graduated from University College Dublin (BSc and PhD). He worked at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Petroleum Affairs Division of the Department of Energy where he was Principal Geologist. He joined the academic staff of University College Dublin in 1983, became Associate Professor of Petroleum Geology in 1998 and was appointed to the Chair of Geology in 2004. He is a member of the Governing Authority of UCD and of the Senate of the National University of Ireland. He has served as Head of the Department of Geology and later the School of Geological Sciences at UCD. He is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and is a past Chairman of the Irish Branch of the Institute of Petroleum (now the Energy Institute). His main research interests are in basin analysis, marine and petroleum geology and he has published widely on petroleum geology and on the geological development of the Irish offshore basins.
Dr. Deirdre Lewis
Technical Director for Mining & Minerals, SLR Consulting Ireland
Vice President, Institute of Geologists of Ireland
Webinar Overview (download presentation slides)
Industry-Academic Collaboration in Ireland (download presentation slides)
The island of Ireland faces significant challenges in the coming decades in mineral resources, energy supply and environmental management, as well as global impacts of climate change. Governmental focus on ‘knowledge-based’ economic development strengthens the case for improved industry-academic linkages in Geosciences to address these complex issues.
Increasingly, government, industry and academic partners are collaborating to build innovative research, development and demonstration (RDD) capacity to address Ireland’s core challenges. Funding is provided variably by government, European Union and industry.
Examples of specific collaborative RDD projects in minerals, petroleum, carbon capture & storage and geothermal projects are provided, while also highlighting some gaps which need to be addressed. Ongoing dialogue through the RIA Geosciences Committee and the Institute of Geologists of Ireland will continue to provide focussed advice and results on priority areas to both policy makers and project developers.
Dr. Deirdre Lewis graduated in 1982 with a primary degree in Natural Sciences (Geology) from Trinity College Dublin and completed her doctoral studies in carbonate sedimentology at TCD in 1986. Since then, she has worked mainly in mineral exploration, focussed on base and precious metals. She spent six years working on exploration projects in the Australian outback until 1996, when she returned to Ireland to commence working with her current employer (SLR Consulting). Since then she has consulted worldwide, but particularly in Africa, where she has worked on behalf of private clients and for EU, World Bank and UN in capacity building for resources management. She is currently Technical Director for Mining & Minerals with SLR. She is a member of the Royal Irish Academy’s Geosciences Committee and Vice President of the Institute of Geologists of Ireland. In these roles she is active in public outreach and education, and was a member of the Irish International Year of Planet Earth committee.