Over 46,000km of flying sees ‘major’ airborne survey reach halfway stage

An airborne survey of Ireland has reached the halfway stage, following a survey plane flying over 46,000km this year alone.

The Tellus project is a ground and airborne geoscience mapping programme which is funded by the the Department of Communications, Environment and Climate Action.

The project’s survey plane recently touched down for the final time this year, having spent the last five months carrying out geophysics flights over western Donegal and Co. Mayo – thus ensuring that 50% of the country is now “officially mapped“.

Farmers were initially warned earlier this year that the low-flying aircraft – equipped with state-of-the-art technology – may startle livestock.

The survey plane has become a familiar sight in the north-west, having flown a total of 46,346km since April of this year. This equates to flying between Dublin and San Francisco more than five times.

The Tellus geophysics survey first started in 2005 when it mapped Northern Ireland. Since then it has covered the border counties, the north midlands, as well as a significant portion of the west and Co. Waterford.

Plans to survey the rest of the country are currently being developed.

Meanwhile, data collected from this year’s airborne survey will be added to existing survey maps to allow for county-wide geological insights. This data is due to be published in spring 2018.

Previous phases of the Tellus survey across Ireland has prompted significant international interest in mineral exploration and provided information for more detailed radon risk maps, the Department of Communications, Environment and Climate Action added.

The completion of the aerial survey of counties Mayo and Donegal marks a significant milestone for the Tellus survey, according to the Minister for Natural Resources, Sean Kyne.

The new data will further reveal the geological make-up of Ireland, demonstrating the benefits of the Tellus Programme which include: protecting public health; increasing agricultural productivity; and allowing for a greater understanding of the country’s natural resources.

“I look forward to viewing the results from both counties early next year as Tellus continues to uncover the landscape of these regions,” he said.