News Release

2 December 2011


Major Scientific Survey Now on the Ground in Counties Leitrim and Sligo

Soil sampling phase of Tellus Border Project nears completion


A major scientific ground survey, the EU funded ‘Tellus Border Project’, has extended into Counties Leitrim and Sligo this week as the concluding phase of an extensive soil sampling programme in the border region begins.


With over 80% of the border region now surveyed and soil sampling complete in Counties Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth, the team of 12 agricultural scientists have now relocated to Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim to continue the process in the weeks up until the Christmas period. The team will return in the spring to complete the final stages of water and sediment sampling.


Sampling began in County Donegal this August, and to date the ground survey team have remained on-schedule collecting soil, water and sediment samples as part of a remarkable survey which will map the border region of Ireland in its entirety.


The soil sampling or ‘geochemical’ survey is part of a two stage project, funded under the EU’s INTERREG IVA Programme which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). It is being run in conjunction with an airborne ‘geophysical’ survey which, during favourable weather conditions, has been collecting data across the border region using state-of-the-art technology to measure the physical properties of soils and rocks at an altitude of 60m above the earth’s surface.


Ray Scanlon, Senior Geologist with the Geological Survey of Ireland is delighted with the team’s progress to date:  “We are thrilled with the success the geochemical team has had so far and we look forward to moving into Counties Leitrim and Sligo. These two areas have a rich diversity in their landscapes and are famed for the distinctive upland landscapes of Ben Bulben and the Dartry Mountains, as well as stunning beaches and coastal scenery. This geologically distinct area provides a great variety of terrain for the soil samplers to negotiate, and analysis of the samples will reveal a wealth of information about the region, including information about agricultural trace elements.”


“We have carried out an extensive outreach campaign to ensure that as many landowners as possible are informed about our work and where possible seek to gain their permission before entering land. Throughout the border region we have been welcomed by many farmers and land-owners and have received positive interest and support and we look forward to this continuing in Leitrim and Sligo.”


The sampling team carry identification and their vehicles are branded with the Tellus Border logo so landowners can be assured of their authenticity. However if you are concerned about this or the airborne survey, particularly if you own sensitive livestock, or if you are interested in finding out more about the project you can contact our helpline on 1800 303 516 or visit


A continuation of the award-winning Tellus Project in Northern Ireland which ran from 2004 – 2007, the cross-border Tellus Border Project is the largest of the latest awards under the Environment theme of INTERREG IVA and is part funded by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and Northern Ireland’s Department of the Environment. The data collected will be combined and analysed on a cross border basis to provide a seamless and informative data set.


Mike Young, Director of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland added, “The data to be collected from both ground and airborne surveys of the Tellus Border project will provide a unique insight into the geological foundation and environmental baseline of the border region. The results will have wide-spread spread environmental, agricultural and economic benefits and will aid sustainable, cross-border management of the environment and natural resources long into the future.”



For further information please contact Kelly McKee/Seona McGrath/Claire Bonner at Morrow Communications on 02890 393837 or


Notes for Editors

·         The project is a joint initiative between the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI), Dundalk Institute of Technology and Queen’s University Belfast and builds on the award-winning Tellus Project which has already successfully mapped Northern Ireland. Data collected during both surveys will be integrated with the existing data to give a cross border geological baseline.

·         ‘Tellus’ was the Roman goddess of the earth, also called Terra Mater.

·         OCAE Consultants Limited, an agri-environmental consultancy, are conducting the soil sampling survey on behalf of the Geological Survey of Ireland.

·         The aircraft being used in the survey is a white, twin propeller plane with a distinctive red tail and blue stripe, and it carries the registration number of C-GSGF.

·         The plane will fly during daylight hours, seven days a week.



• The Special EU Programmes Body is a North/South Implementation Body sponsored by the Department of Finance and Personnel in Northern Ireland and the Department of Finance in Ireland. It is responsible for managing two EU structural funds Programmes PEACE III and INTERREG IV designed to enhance cross-border co-operation, promote reconciliation and create a more peaceful and prosperous society. The Programmes operate within a clearly defined area including Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland.

• The INTERREG IVA 2007-2013 Programme is worth €256 million and aims to address the economic and social problems which result from the existence of borders. It supports strategic cross-border co-operation for a more prosperous and sustainable region.

• For more information on the SEUPB please visit