National geological survey: Will you spot the low-flying airplane as it collects data?

If you see a low-flying airplane over your land between now and the end of the year, it may be part of a nationwide geological survey.

With its red tail and black stripe, along with ‘SURVEY’ and the registration number C-GSGF written across both sides, the plane conducting the next phase of the Tellus survey is expected to be easily identified.

The next phase of the Tellus survey will take off over southern and central counties of Ireland in the coming days.

Tellus is a programme to collect geochemical and geophysical data on rocks, soil and water across Ireland. To gather the data, a low-flying airplane will fly over counties Laois, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford, and neighbouring parts of Offaly, Cork, Carlow and Kildare until the end of the year, weather permitting.

The programme has been mapping across Ireland over the last nine years and is currently funded under Project Ireland 2040, the national development plan by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

The programme is aiming to have 75% of Ireland mapped by 2020, with the resulting data having the potential to deliver positive economic, environmental and agricultural benefits by “helping to assist in local environment understanding, soil management and natural resource potential” for these counties.

Dr. James Hodgson, senior geologist and project manager for Tellus, said the survey provides “valuable insights” into the geological make-up of the country.

“The data collected helps us to sustainably manage our environment and natural resources as well as protecting public health,” Dr. Hodgson added.

The aircraft

The survey aircraft is a white, twin propeller plane, which according to Tellus can be easily identified by its unique features.

Based at Waterford Airport, the survey plane will be flying at 60m over rural areas – about eight times the height of a two-storey house – and 240m over urban areas in the coming months, as approved by the Irish Aviation Authority.

Due to the low-flying altitude of the survey aircraft, anyone concerned about sensitive livestock is encouraged to contact Tellus.