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New book unearths the impacts of the Tellus surveys for north of Ireland

  • · Impacts from the Tellus survey of Northern Ireland and the six northern counties of the Republic of Ireland showcased in new book
  • · Book launch event reflects on the economic and environmental outcomes from the Tellus surveys so far and the future benefits of nationwide surveying

Today sees the launch of ‘Unearthed: Impacts of the Tellus surveys of the north of Ireland’, a book showcasing outputs from the most significant geoscience project ever conducted across the island of Ireland. Published by the Royal Irish Academy, and produced in partnership with the Geological Survey of Ireland, the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland and the British Geological Survey, the book presents findings from the first two stages of Tellus – Tellus Border and the Tellus survey of Northern Ireland - the largest collaborative cross-border programme of geoscience surveys on the island of Ireland to date.

Between 2004 and 2013, €15 million of government and EU funding was invested in high-resolution, airborne geophysical and geochemical sampling surveys of Northern Ireland and the six northern counties of the Republic of Ireland. In the book, scientists who have worked with the resulting Tellus data reflect on the outputs and real impacts for the economy, the environment, energy, agriculture and ecology.

The Tellus survey, named after the Roman goddess of the Earth, seeks to map and understand the qualities of the island of Ireland’s terrain holistically – including soil, stream water, stream sediment and rock. This includes how geoscience data helps to identify prospects for mineral exploration, stimulating inward exploration investment, whilst assessing and managing environmental impacts from historical mining activity, as detailed in the new publication. Similarly, case studies within the book highlight naturally occurring radioactivity as an opportunity for geothermal energy, alongside the public health risk posed by radon.
At a time when the need to increase agricultural productivity competes with the need to protect the water environment, Tellus data, as detailed in this new publication, helps inform ‘smart agriculture’ which seeks to balance both objectives.

Speaking today at the launch event at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin, Minister for Natural Resources, Seán Kyne TD said: “I am delighted to see today the very significant outcomes of Tellus surveying coming to fruition with the publication of this comprehensive volume of real-world scientific research. It spans several key areas including mineral exploration, agriculture and the management of the environment, showing the value of state-of-the-art geoscience data to Ireland’s economy and society.”

Koen Verbruggen, Director of the Geological Survey of Ireland recognised that Tellus is the outcome of over a decade of cross-border collaboration: “Following the completion of the EU -funded Tellus Border project, which successfully completed mapping of the border region of Ireland, the Geological Survey of Ireland is extending Tellus by surveying nationwide in the years ahead. Today’s event looks back on key impacts of the Tellus Border and Northern Ireland Tellus survey and explores how similar benefits will be realised nationwide in future.”

Professor Mary Daly, President of the Royal Irish Academy, said: “It is wonderful to witness the publication of Unearthed. The work of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, the Geological Survey of Ireland and the British Geological Survey is hugely impressive; not only for the world class excellence of their work but for setting the benchmark for successful all-island collaboration. The Academy is delighted to be involved in making this research widely available through the publication of Unearthed in hard copy and making it freely accessible via open access”.

The book launch also featured a showcase of current Tellus research and an opportunity for some 120 cross-sectoral stakeholders to get involved with the planning of future Tellus survey phases. An expert panel discussion, featuring Professor Iain Stewart MBE and Director General of Science Foundation Ireland Professor Mark Ferguson, further explored the book’s theme of geoscience supporting policy and the economy.

Under the direction of the Geological Survey of Ireland, Tellus aims to complete surveying of 50% of the country by end 2017. The airborne survey is currently active in Co. Galway, alongside the geochemical survey team which is collecting soil samples in Co. Mayo.


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Notes for Editors
· About the book
The book is published by the Royal Irish Academy and available to buy online at To encourage further research and collaboration, this book is available under open access protocols.
· About the authors
The book is authored by a cross-border team of geoscientists including government and industry scientists and research institution investigators. Editor Mike Young is a former director of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland. Currently he is Secretary for Foreign and External Affairs at the Geological Society of London.
· About the Geological Survey of Ireland
The Geological Survey of Ireland 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, Climate Action & Environment (DCCAE).
· About Tellus
Tellus is a ground and airborne geoscience mapping programme, collecting chemical and geophysical data that is informing the management of Ireland's environment and natural resources. Tellus survey results are available, free of charge to view and download at