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The Tellus Border Conference

Thursday 24th October 2013

Hillgrove Hotel, Co. Monaghan, Ireland

The outputs of Tellus Border were presented to 134 delegates at the Tellus Border Results and Research Conference held at the Hillgrove Hotel, Co. Monaghan on 24th October 2013. The conference revealed results, interpretations and primary research on the survey data collected as part of Tellus Border. Through coupled airborne geophysical and ground-based geochemical surveys, a region covering over 12,000km2 in the Rep. of Ireland border region has been physically and chemically mapped to support environmental management and natural resources assessment. Along with the results from the surveys, findings from 13 applied research projects based on Tellus and Tellus Border data were revealed, indicating new and innovative uses for the data in environmental management, mineral exploration and agricultural productivity. Posters presented on the day are available for each project on the research page. Links to presentations are given in the conference programme below.



Opening speeches

Mike Young

Director, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland

Dr Deirdre Lewis

Technical Director, SLR Consulting

Dr Dave Foster

Director, Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Pat Colgan

Chief Executive, Special EU Programmes Body

Alastair Ross, MLA

Assembly Private Secretary to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment

Michael Manley

Assistant Secretary, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources


Team talks

Dr Marie Cowan

Embarking on a new flight path; the next leg of the Tellus journey

Mairéad Glennon

Tellus Border communications campaign: supporting geoscientific surveying

Dr James Hodgson

The application of geophysical data for geological and radon risk mapping

Kate Knights

Geochemistry in Ireland: new data for exploration and research applications

Shane Carey

Managing and delivering geochemical and geophysical datasets

Ray Scanlon

The Tellus effect - delivering on impacts


Rapid research round-up

A series of 5-minute presentations on 16 research projects underway as part of Tellus Border, followed by a poster session. The posters are available to view here.


Case studies

Mark Patton, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland

The economic impact of the Tellus Project in Northern Ireland

David O'Connell, OCAE Consultants Ltd

Tellus Border data and its relevance to the agricultural sector

Dr Valerie McCarthy, Dundalk Institute of Technology

Impacts of the Tellus and Tellus Border data on the environment sector

Dr Jenny McKinley

Can where we live affect our health? Potentially toxic elements in soils and cancer patterns

Closing remarks


Koen Verbruggen

Director, Geological Survey of Ireland

Following on from the geophysical data launch in February this year, Dr James Hodgson further explored the geophysical survey results at the conference, highlighting work underway with the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland on a new radon risk model using Tellus Border and GSI geological data. Shane Carey, the project’s GIS and Data Manager, invited delegates to become familiar with the data through a live demonstration of the Tellus Border map viewer. Delegates also had the chance on the day to get to grips with the data at the interactive touch-screen exhibit, which allowed instant access to the geochemical data.

One of the most eagerly awaited outputs of the project was the border region’s most comprehensive map of gold in stream sediments to date, generated from over 3,500 samples taken in 2011 and 2012. Results revealed by Tellus Border’s Geochemist Kate Knights at the conference are extremely promising, indicating localised gold anomalies throughout the region and more notably high concentrations in several areas. As well as highlighting known existing gold occurrences, such as Clontibret in Co. Monaghan and Glentogher and Glencolumbkille in Co Donegal, a number of new areas with anomalous gold concentrations have been identified associated with the Donegal Granites and Dalradian lithologies (Inishowen, Termon) and with Silurian/Ordovician shales and sandstones in Cos. Monaghan (Carrickmacross) and Cavan (Kingscourt, Killashandra). There was considerable media interest in the gold map, with the story reported widely across the island of Ireland including on RTE news.

Results are expected to stimulate considerable industry interest and inward investment in the area. As a consequence of the original Tellus project in Northern Ireland, it is estimated that £32m has been stimulated in inward investment to the Northern Irish economy, with the territory licenced increasing from 15% to 70% post-Tellus. Reflecting on the continuing success of the original Tellus project in Northern Ireland, Alastair Ross MLA, said: “Six years on from the conclusion of the Tellus Survey we have seen a significant increase in international mineral exploration investment, important progress in research both within our universities and through public-private partnerships, and the use of the data in long term policy planning across sectors including economic, environmental, agricultural and health”. In addition to the gold data, maps for over 50 elements in soil, stream water and stream sediment geochemical data were published on the day. The trace-level results reveal important natural and man-made influences on the soil and water chemistry of the area, significant for managing the environment and optimising agricultural productivity on a cross-border basis. Geochemical and geophysical maps are now available, free of charge, on the Tellus Border Viewer.

Celebrating the conclusion of the major cross-border initiative, Minister for Natural Resources, Mr Fergus O’Dowd TD, commended “both the world-class science and the cross-border partnerships that underpinned the project. I am delighted that this new dataset is available and its results will assist mineral exploration in the border county region”. Over the past three years duration of Tellus Border considerable demand and momentum has been built up to continue the work throughout the island of Ireland. The Director of Geological Survey of Ireland, Koen Verbruggen, was pleased to announce at the conference that Tellus will continue as a programme area in the GSI during 2014 following the completion of the EU-funded border region project in December this year. The team would be pleased to hear from potential industry partners interested in collaborative research and funding bids for future phases of surveying. To get in touch please contact or