Minister O’Dowd announces a €250,000 environmental research call - contracts for 10 researchers over the next year


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