Geoscience: Benefitting Irish Society
- Keeping our Cities Safe: Dublin SURGE Project reveals the health of Dublin’s soil
- Protecting our Environment: Minister O’Dowd announces a €250,000 environmental research call - contracts for 10 researchers over the next year
Minster for Natural Resources, Fergus O’Dowd, today opens a two day conference in Dublin Castle that will outline the significant contribution that Geoscience makes in the protection of Irish society. Today’s programme concentrates on “A Safe City; The Contribution of Geoscience in the Urban Environment” and is hosted by the Royal Irish Academy (RIA), the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI). The programme examines flooding, subsidence, landslides, the challenges of tunnelling, contaminated land and state-of-the-art 3D modelling of subsurface geology in case-studies of cities in Ireland, the UK and across Europe.
Launching the conference Minister O’Dowd said “Geoscientists contribute to a better understanding of city environments, where wise use of human and natural resources is vital to reduce risk, protect and enhance quality of life. If Safe Cities are to be achieved, decision-makers must have access to geoscience data and solid interpretation of ground conditions".
On Thursday the conference programme will focus on the creation of jobs from geoscience research. The conference will showcase GSI’s flagship collaborative projects, Tellus Border and INFOMAR, and demonstrate how GSI is creating jobs through its Geoscience Initiatives programme of work. In introducing the conference themes Minister O’Dowd announced a €250,000 environmental research call, under the EU INTERREG IVA-funded Tellus Border project, that will facilitate contracts for up to 10 researchers over the next year.
Today’s conference programme sees the publication of the GSI’s Dublin SURGE (Soil Urban Geochemistry) project, the first ever in-depth study on the chemistry of Dublin’s soil. Results show that the soils of inner city Dublin have higher levels of potentially harmful elements and persistent organic pollutants than outer city areas. The same chemical pattern is seen in cities around the world and is consistent with an industrial heritage, burning of fossil-fuels, the use of leaded paint and petrol over the past 1000 years of human habitation in Dublin.
Koen Verbruggen, Acting Director of GSI said “This study provides a snapshot of the chemical status of Dublin soil today which is directly relevant to the protection of its citizens' health, compliance with environmental legislation, land-use planning and urban regeneration. Through the collaboration of environmental experts, health authorities and regulators, further deterioration of Ireland’s soil resource can be prevented, especially in urban public areas where people can come into contact with soil".
The conference features a keynote public lecture by Professor John McCloskey, University of Ulster and newly elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy on “Understanding Earthquakes and Tsunamis” which looks at how geoscience is applied to earthquakes and tsunamis in the urban setting on an international scale.
Professor Pat Shannon, Chairman of the Geosciences Committee of the Royal Irish Academy said, "Geoscientists have a vital role to play in providing knowledge to those who maintain, design and develop our cities, with a view to making them safer places for people to live and work".
Attendance at the conference and public lecture is free but delegates must register online at http://geoscience2012.eventbrite.ie/
Notes to Editors:
· The mission of the Royal Irish Academy’s Geosciences Committee is to foster excellence in Geosciences throughout the island of Ireland, to promote co-operation with other disciplines, to advise, contribute to and guide Academy policy in the area of Geosciences Research and Education, and engage the public on topical issues.
· The Geological Survey of Ireland founded in 1845, is the National Earth Science Agency. It is responsible for providing geological advice and information, and for the acquisition of data for this purpose. GSI produces a range of products including maps, reports and databases and acts as a knowledge centre and project partner in all aspects of Irish geology. GSI is a division of the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR).
· The Geological Survey of Northern Ireland is part of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI). GSNI provides geoscience information and services to inform decision making, promote economic development and assist environmental management in Northern Ireland.
· The Dublin SURGE Project is part of a Europe-wide initiative of the Geological Surveys of Europe (EuroGeoSurveys) which aims to highlight the importance of urban soils to environmental health in European cities.
· The cross-border Tellus Border project is an environmental project funded by the INTERREG IVA development programme of the European Regional Development Fund, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) in Northern Ireland, the border Region of Ireland and western Scotland.
· The INFOMAR (INtegrated Mapping FOr the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s MARine Resource) programme is a joint venture between the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute and is the successor to the Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS). INFOMAR project will produce integrated mapping products covering the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed.
· The Geoscience Initiatives projects of the GSI are undertaken under the National Development Plan and encompass a range of projects designed to enhance our understanding of Irish geology and how it can be applied in economic development