Project News

2008 News

Award from Mining Journal

3rd December 2008
To recognise the effects of the Tellus Project, GSNI and DETI were awarded the ‘Country Award’ in the prestigious annual industry awards sponsored by Mining Journal. The award was presented to Garth Earls by Barry Cryer OBE at a dinner in London attended by 800 industry leaders. The citation read:
“Northern Ireland – Previously thought to be inaccessible to the industry, but in October 2007 the government released data from the £6 million Tellus project. These new detailed geochemical and airborne geophysical datasets, which cover the whole country, have boosted mineral exploration to unprecedented levels. The number of licences has trebled since the data were released, and 68% of Northern Ireland is now under prospecting licence, or licence application.”

Award from Association of Geographic Information

27th November 2008
Tellus has received the ‘Innovation and Best Practice Award 2008’, in the Central Government category, for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Geographic Information. Tellus was selected from a range of other GI projects submitted by government departments. Mike Young received the award at the AGI Awards Ceremony and Dinner in London on 27th November.
Link to the Tellus case study on the IGGI website

3D geological model for Belfast

4th November 2008
At the Geodata 2008 conference held at the Waterfront, Belfast, Dr David Boon of BGS described the background to one of the main tasks of the Tellus2 project, the development of 3D models for Belfast and Londonderry. In a talk entitled ‘3D and 4D data applications’ Dr Boon described the development of 3D modelling and visualisation software at BGS and explained how this is used in innovative databasing and analysis of borehole and geological data. He showed examples of a preliminary model of Belfast and other examples from GB.
Link to lithoframe models on the BGS website

GIS and mineral prospecting

28th October 2009
At the Eaton Symposium celebrating the centenary of Queen’s University Belfast, Dr Paul Lusty of BGS presented a paper on the use of Tellus data in the strategic planning of mineral prospecting. His paper, ‘Gold potential in the Dalradian rocks of NW Northern Ireland: prospectivity analysis using Tellus data’ was presented in a session on ‘Application of Spatial Analysis to Geographical Enquiry’.

Groundwater of the Belfast area

15th October 2008
Claire Burns of Queen’s University has been awarded a PhD studentship, partly financed by Tellus2, on ‘Sustainable groundwater management in urban fringe areas’. The project, supervised by Dr Ulrich Ofterdinger of the Environmental Engineering Research Centre at Queen’s, will re-appraise the hydrogeological conceptual model for the Lagan Valley on the basis of the newly available data, integrate a revised hydrogeological model with 3D geological models of the urban area and develop a revised numerical groundwater flow model. This will evaluate the significance of the various pressures on groundwater quality and quantity and thus inform a strategy for sustainable groundwater management.

Abstraction of groundwater and water discharges from industrial users in the urban fringe of Belfast may be impacting on the quality and available resource of the regional aquifer. Leachates emitted from land-fill sites may be affecting groundwater quality. This resource is likely to become an increasingly important element of public and private water supply in the future and it is therefore important to understand the qualitative and quantitative effects of these different influences.

Although the regional aquifer has been modelled previously in recent years substantial new data have become available, including Tellus airborne magnetics, which help to define relevant aquifer structures; Tellus electrical conductivity, which helps to map the effects of contamination; and recent drilling and hydrogeological investigations related to a soft drinks industry.

PhD award for regional geological study

5th October 2008
Hugh Anderson, previously of Edinburgh University, has been awarded a PhD studentship at University College, Dublin on ‘The origin and nature of Cenozoic faulting in north-east Ireland’. The study, co-financed by the BGS British Universities Funding Initiative, will be supervised by Prof John Walsh of the Fault Analysis Group. This extends the work of Hugh’s BSc dissertation which presented a regional interpretation of Tellus aeromagnetic data.

This study will define the kinematics of Cenozoic deformation in NE Ireland and will attempt to reconcile related structures to the established larger-scale tectonic deformations. The principal data constraints include the Tellus dataset, offshore and onshore seismic data and outcrop studies. The Tellus dataset has already helped to identify a number of generations of dyke swarms, attributed to pulsed activity of the Iceland plume. It has also highlighted the presence of NE – SW striking sinistral strike-slip faults combined with NNW – SSE dextral strike-slip faults. This strike-slip faulting is consistent with Alpine compression, which appears to have been punctuated by phases of plume-related deformation.

This project will establish details of the nature of Cenozoic deformation and its relationship to various tectonic influences, and will investigate links between Cenozoic deformation and other issues, such as the reactivation of Caledonian structures, the formation of Tertiary igneous provinces and the faulting of offshore basins.

Radon – using geological and Tellus data to improve risk estimates

1st October 2008
Dr Don Appleton of BGS, together with Dr Jon Miles of the Health Protection Agency and Dr Robert Larmour of the Environmental and Heritage Service have published the results of a pilot study demonstrating how multi-parameter data may be used to improve the estimation of radon risk. The citation is: Appleton, James; Miles, J.C.H.; Green, B.M.R.; Larmour, R.. 2008 Pilot study of the application of Tellus airborne radiometric and soil geochemical data for radon mapping. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 99 (10). 1687-1697.
Link to

Geostatistics research using Tellus data

8th-10th September 2008
Tellus data featured in two presentations at the 7th International Conference on Geostatistics for Environmental Applications, Southampton.

  • Jennifer McKinley from Queen’s University and Oy Leuangthong from the Centre for Computational Geostatistics at the University of Alberta collaborated on ‘An examination of transformation techniques to investigate and interpret multivariate geochemical data analysis – the Tellus Case Study’. Their work exploits correlations between widely spaced geochemical sampling data and closely spaced airborne data to improve interpolations of the geochemistry data.
  • Amy Barsby described the progress of her PhD study on ‘Trace Element Abundance and Human Epidemiology in Northern Ireland – the Tellus Case’, which is underway at Queen’s University and co-financed by the BGS British Universities Funding Initative.

Iceland display for Tellus airborne data

18th-20th August 2008
Don Fay of the Open University has used the Tellus airborne results to map the outline of dyke swarms near Ballynahinch, Co. Down. Using these results as a guide he mapped the dykes in detail with a ground magnetometer and his research usefully illustrates the resolution of the two methods. With Alex Donald of GSNI, Don published the results in a poster at the 2008 General Assembly of the Inter Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior, held in Reykjavík.

Contaminated land study

15th July 2008
Owen William of Belfast City Council was awarded a Master’s degree by research at Nottingham University for a thesis on ‘Contaminated Land and its Remediation in Northern Ireland’. Owen used Tellus geochemistry data to define background levels of toxic element distribution and considered the options for long term remediation and disposal.

Contaminative activities have taken place at an estimated 11,606 sites in Northern Ireland. This thesis investigated the general characteristics of the land, the soil remediation techniques appropriate to the region and the feasibility of establishing a Soil Treatment Centre in the region. Most suspected sites are small (80% being less than 5 hectares) and are predominantly situated in urban areas in the east of the region. Heavy, poorly drained soils are the dominant matrix contaminated with non-halogenated VOCs and SVOCs, and heavy metals.

The concentrations of these contaminants of concern occur well within the operating windows of most process-based soil remediation techniques. However, Northern Ireland’s soil characteristics are the dominant driver in determining appropriate remedial solutions. Currently, 71% of sites are remediated through Dig and Dump, often entailing disposal to facilities outside the region. A Soil Treatment Centre located in the east of the region was demonstrated to be potentially viable, especially as Landfill Tax and transportation costs increase.

Extractive industry conference

25th-27th June 2008
Mark Patton of GSNI, together with Terry Johnson and Mike Young, presented a paper, ‘New earth-science data and extractive industry policy in Northern Ireland’ at the annual industry conference in Cardiff. They describe how Tellus and other GSNI data impact on the industry, particularly in the context of PPS19: Planning for Sustainable Mineral Development.
Link to the EIG Conference

Director lectures to CNCC, Northern Ireland

9th May 2008
Garth Earls, Director GSNI, delivered a paper on the work of GSNI and the results of the Tellus project to the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside.
Link to the minutes of the CNCC, PDF format

Organic contamination in Belfast

1st May 2008
Tellus urban organic geochemistry data were used by Joe Cunningham of Queen’s University in his project dissertation for the degree of BEng. entitled ‘Integrated Air and Soil Contaminant Modeling’. The work analyses the links between PAHs observed in air samples and Tellus soil samples, and traces the origins of several of the anomalies.

Tellus prompts record levels of mining investment

10th April 2008
By the end of financial year 2007/8, licensing of Tellus data to mineral prospectors had prompted an unprecedented level of investment in exploration. My end-march 2008, 70% of Northern Ireland was under licence to companies from UK, Ireland, Canada and USA. Some £15 million has been committed to exploration over the next two years.

Panning for gold with the BBC

April 2008
GSNI staff demonstrated the art of gold panning at a family event at the BBC Belfast. This all day event was part of the highly successful BBC 2 Blueprint TV series on which GSNI are technical advisers.

Tellus – the next phase

1st April 2008
A three year programme extending the research and outreach of the Tellus Project was announced today by GSNI. Informally known as Tellus2, the work will be financed by the Innovation Fund and falls within the remit of the Regional Innovation Strategy for Northern Ireland Action Plan 2008-11, which says (para 3.1.1):

  • GSNI will undertake advanced and innovative analysis of the information gathered through the Tellus project and promote that information locally and internationally with a view to licensing data and working with local and international players in the natural resources exploration, renewables and geothermal energy sectors; and, collaborate with government and industrial partners in the RoI in extending the Tellus project into the RoI.

Tasks to be undertaken include the development of a range of web-based data delivery systems, research into mineral and geothermal prospecting, revision of geological mapping and the delivery of 1:10000 scale digital geology maps, and the creation of local and regional 3D geological models. The project will continue actively to encourage and facilitate research and collaboration in the earth sciences between government, industry and academia.

Tellus geochemistry maps areas for soil treatment

12th March 2008
Crawford Jordan and Alex Higgins of AFBI, together with Dermot Smyth of GSNI, presented a paper at the Agricultural Research Forum, Tullamore, RoI, entitled ‘Use of the Tellus geochemical dataset to map areas where sewage sludge can be disposed of in Northern Ireland’.
Link to the Proceedings of the Agricultural Research Forum, PDF Document

Tellus presentation at the world’s largest mining event

8th March 2008
Garth Earls, Director, GSNI presented a lecture on the progress of the Tellus Project at the Prospectors and Developers Annual Convention in Toronto. More than 20,000 delegates from 108 countries attended the show.

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Last Updated: 17th July 2009