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Geological Survey of Ireland

3 Projects, page 1 of 1
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/H024301/1
    Funder Contribution: 716,274 GBP
    Partners: UU, University of Ottawa, University of Maine, TCD, Geological Survey of Ireland

    Relative sea level (RSL) change reflects the interplay between a large number of variables operating at scales from global to local. Changes in RSL around the British Isles (BI) since the height of the last glaciation (ca. 24 000 years ago), are dominated by two key variables (i) the rise of ocean levels caused by climate warming and the melting of land-based ice; and (ii) the vertical adjustment of the Earth's surface due to the redistribution of this mass (unloading of formerly glaciated regions and loading of the ocean basins and margins). As a consequence RSL histories vary considerably across the region once covered by the British-Irish Ice Sheet (BIIS). The variable RSL history means that the BI is a globally important location for studying the interactions between land, ice and the ocean during the profound and rapid changes that followed the last glacial maximum. The BI RSL record is an important yardstick for testing global models of land-ice-ocean interactions and this in turn is important for understanding future climate and sea level scenarios. At present, the observational record of RSL change in the British Isles is limited to shallow water areas because of accessibility and only the later part of the RSL curve is well studied. In Northern Britain, where the land has been rising most, RSL indicators are close to or above present sea level and the RSL record is most complete. In southern locations, where uplift has been less, sea level was below the present for long periods of time but there is very little data on RSL position. There are varying levels of agreement between models and existing field data and we cannot be certain of model projections of former low sea levels. Getting the models right is important for understanding the whole global pattern of land-ice-ocean interactions in the past and into the future. To gather the missing data and thus improve the utility of the British RSL curves for testing earth-ice-ocean models, we will employ a specialised, interdisciplinary approach that brings together a unique team of experts in a multidisciplinary team. We have carefully selected sites where there is evidence of former sea levels is definitely preserved and we will use existing seabed geological data in British and Irish archives to plan our investigations. The first step is marine geophysical profiling of submerged seabed sediments and mapping of surface geomorphological features on the seabed. These features include the (usually) erosional surface (unconformity) produced by the rise in sea level, and surface geomorphological features that indicate former shorelines (submerged beaches, barriers and deltas). These allow us to identify the position (but not the age) of lower than present sea levels. The second step is to use this stratigraphic and geomorphological information to identify sites where we will take cores to acquire sediments and organic material from low sea-level deposits. We will analyse the sediments and fossil content of the cores to find material that can be closely related to former sea levels and radiocarbon dated. The third step in our approach is to extend the observed RSL curves using our new data and compare this to model predictions of RSL. We can then modify the parameters in the model to obtain better agreement with observations and thus better understand the earth-ice-ocean interactions. These data are also important for understanding the palaeogeography of the British Isles. Our data will allow a first order reconstruction of former coastlines, based upon the modern bathymetry, for different time periods during the deglaciation. This is of particular importance to the presence or absence of potential landbridges that might have enabled immigration to Ireland of humans and animals. They will also allow us to identify former land surfaces on the seabed. The palaeogeography is crucial to understanding the evolving oceanographic circulation of the Irish Sea.

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/I022175/1
    Funder Contribution: 89,488 GBP
    Partners: Loughborough University, Department of Primary Industries, NGSA, Private Address, PIG, Minerals and Geosci Dept Malaysia JMG, Earth Knowledge, Inc., Geological Survey of Ireland, NERC British Geological Survey

    Geological Survey Organisations (GSOs) are generally the principal repository of geoscience data in their respective countries and this is potentially an extremely valuable resource for economic development. However, it is also common that this resource is underutilised because of the way the data holdings are organised and because of difficulties in accessing them. These problems are most common in the GSOs of developing countries. A well managed and readily available geoscience information resource is a key component of a poverty alleviation strategy in a developing nation. This is because such information can contribute to development in the following ways: - Clean water supplies from unpolluted groundwater resources improve health and release the economic potential of women who no longer spend their days carrying water to meet their domestic needs; - Identifies primary mineral resources which can be exploited as part of a wealth generation strategy, by providing raw materials for export or indigenous production; and - Identification of natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides, flooding or naturally occurring toxic substances. The British Geological Survey (BGS) has been designing and building geosciences databases for several decades. We now have a wealth of mature and well documented designs. We have a reputation for excellence in this area and are contacted by other GSOs and industry for copies of our designs. However, this is presently an ad hoc process which requires an awareness of BGS' skills and knowledge that we do share our designs at no cost. It is our aim to provide an initial resource of open, ready to use database designs that will be available to all on a public website. We will also build a self sustaining community which will develop these designs and add additional designs to meet the needs of the wider environmental community. In order to achieve our goals we proposed a two year project to carry out the following activities: 1. Create a web based resource hosted by the BGS which contains downloadable Database Design Packages. 2. Build a community of interested parties to maximise the uptake of the downloadable Database Design Packages and exchange ideas on good data management practices within geoscience. 3. Develop a strategy to ensure community sustainability and ensure that a web based resource is maintained long after the project ends. It is anticipated that the primary application of the data model packages would be by GSOs creating new databases to hold geoscientific data or used as templates to compare their current designs against. The data model packages would all conform to NERC Standards, so by adopting elements of the data models end users would inherently be aligning themselves with the same high standards. The adoption of common internationally accredited standards promotes good data management practice and could facilitate future data sharing and system integration opportunities. We expect the project to produce the following benefits: - More GSOs will have access to huigh quality geoscience database designs, which should lead to greater use of such designs - Greater opportunity for environmental modelling because improved data infrastructure - Greater opportunity to re-purpose data or create commercially valuable derived data products - Increasing the usefulness of data through centralised descriptions of the meaning and inter-relationships of the information - Increase the time spent on adding value to and interpreting data by making it easier and quicker to find and access data - New long lasting multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional partnerships will be formed which should lead to future collaborative research & funding opportunities

  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/J009768/1
    Funder Contribution: 699,361 GBP
    Partners: University of Pennsylvania, SNH, University of St Andrews, University of Bergen, UCC, SFU, Centrica Plc, Manweb Plc, Historic England, Stockholm University...

    Recent satellite measurements of the Earth's polar ice sheets highlight that changes in ice extent and thickness are occurring at rates far higher than expected. The challenge for researchers is to place these observations into a longer-term context and produce computer models ('ice sheet forecasts') that reliably predict the fate of ice sheets over this century and beyond. Although remote from habitation, the polar ice sheets influence global sea level. Retreat by increased melting and iceberg calving produces higher sea levels and concerns exist that sea level may rise by metres displacing many millions of people, and their livelihoods, from their coastal homes. At this point in time, it is not possible to study the full life cycle of the present Antarctic or Greenland ice sheets as they are still evolving and undergoing large-scale changes. Instead, we will use an ice sheet that has now fully retreated; the ice sheet that covered most of Britain, Ireland and the North Sea during the last ice age. The last British-Irish ice sheet covered up to 1,000,000 km2 at its maximum size, around 25,000 yrs ago, and was relatively small by global standards. However, its character, setting and behaviour have striking parallels with both the modern West Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets. Large parts of the British-Irish Ice Sheet were marine-influenced just like in west Antarctica today; and numerous fast-flowing ice streams carried much of its mass, just like in the Greenland Ice Sheet today. All three are or were highly dynamic, in climatically sensitive regions, with marine sectors, ocean-terminating margins and land-based glaciers. All these common factors make the British-Irish Ice Sheet a powerful analogue for understanding ice sheet dynamics on a range of timescales, operating now and in the future. Recent work by members of this consortium has revealed the pattern of ice sheet retreat that once covered the British Isles, as recorded by end moraines and other glacial landforms. Other work by members of this consortium has used sophisticated computer models to simulate the ice sheet's response to climate change at the end of the last Ice Age. However, these models can only be as good as the geological data on which they are based, and the pattern is poorly constrained in time. We need to know more about the style, rate and timing of ice sheet decay in response to past climate change. Such knowledge allows us to further refine computer modelling so that better predictions can be made. The main focus of the project therefore, is to collect sediments and rocks deposited by the last ice sheet that covered the British Isles, and use these, along with organic remains, to date (e.g. by radiocarbon analyses) the retreat of the ice sheet margins. The project will use over 200 carefully chosen sites, dating some 800 samples in order to achieve this. Offshore, samples will be extracted using coring devices lowered from a research ship to the seabed, and onshore by manual sampling and by use of small drilling rigs. Once the samples are dated and added to the pattern information provided by the landforms, maps of the shrinking ice sheet will be produced. These will provide crucial information on the timing and rates of change across the whole ice sheet. The British-Irish Ice Sheet will become the best constrained anywhere in the world and be the benchmark against which ice sheet models are improved and tested in the future. Knowledge on the character and age of the seafloor sediments surrounding the British Isles is also useful for many industrial, archaeological and heritage applications. Accordingly, the project is closely linked to partners interested for example in locating offshore windfarms, electricity cables between Britain and Ireland, and heritage bodies aiming to preserve offshore archaeological remains.