Wednesday 22 May 2019

Mapping what lies beneath

Marine survey vessels visit Arklow as part of Heritage Week

James Barry
James Barry
Crew members Padraig Cronin, Kieran Craven & Agust Magnusson
The GSI inshore survey vessel with a 3D seabed mapping system

Deborah Coleman

A fascinating programme which aims to map the Irish sea floor grabbed the attention of the Arklow community recently as the research vessel involved paid a visit to the local harbour.

The Integrated Mapping For the Sustainable Development of Ireland's MArine Resource (INFOMAR) programme is a joint venture between the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute.

The programme aims to map the Irish sea floor and is being funded by the Irish Government through the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment as part of the National Development Plan, 2007 - 2013.

The INFORMAR survey vessel was a great talking point for spectators who got the opportunity to speak with the crew and research scientists on board.

Such survey vessels use acoustic survey techniques to precisely map the surface of the seafloor providing both bathymetry (sea surface) and information about the seafloor type e.g. sand, mud, gravel, rock.

A second vessel, the RV Keary as part of the CHERISH project, (Climate, Heritage and Environments of Reefs, Islands and Headlands) was also in town at the same time, as part of Heritage Week.

CHERISH is an exciting, five-year European-funded Ireland-Wales project between the Geological Survey, Ireland, the Discovery Programme: Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, and Aberystwyth University, Wales.

The project will receive €4.1 million through the Ireland-Wales 2014-2020 Programme.

The four main aims of CHERISH are to: target data and knowledge gaps to raise awareness of heritage in these remote coastal locations; discover, assess, map and monitor heritage on land and beneath the sea and establish new baseline data and recording standards; link land and sea and to reconstruct past environments and weather history.

CHERISH will work with communities and will widely circulate the results and best practice for future climate change adaptation.

In Ireland, the Geological Survey and Discovery Programme are collaborating closely together to formulate ways of increasing the protection of coastal archaeological sites.

Data from the survey vessels such as the RV Keary will be combined with aerial drone data to make models of processes which lead to erosion of the coastline.

Wicklow People