SEGH Articles

Tellus Border: Initial findings of a geo-environmental survey of the border region of Ireland

01 March 2013
The Tellus Border project is an EU INTERREG IVA-funded mapping project that involved baseline geochemical and geophysical surveys in the border region of Ireland, and the integration of data from these with existing data collected in Northern Ireland.

The Tellus Border project is an EU INTERREG IVA-funded mapping project that involves baseline geochemical and geophysical surveys in the border region of Ireland, and the integration of data from these with existing data collected in Northern Ireland. The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), Queen’s University Belfast and Dundalk Institute of Technology are partners in the cross-border initiative, which is led by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland.

After the successful completion of an airborne geophysical survey and a multi-element geochemical survey in summer 2012, the three-year project is now in a data interpretation and mapping phase.  As part of the geochemical survey, over 21,000 samples of soil, stream water, sediment and vegetation were collected over an area spanning 12,300 km2 at an average density of 1 site per 4 km2.  Stream sediment, water and topsoil samples have now been analysed for a range of inorganic elements. The data will be of assistance to the agricultural sector in the assessment of soil trace elements, to environmental managers in the assessment of potentially harmful elements in the environment and to the mineral exploration community. Geochemical data will be released free-of-charge via in the months ahead; regional geochemical and geophysical maps are currently available to view online.

Flying nearly 60,000 line kilometers, the airborne survey aircraft collected data from three on-board instruments (magnetometer, electromagnetic system and gamma ray detector) while flying at a low altitude of 60m above ground level. The data is already being used for the improvement of geological mapping, the assessment of radon hazard, detection of landfill pollution plumes and the identification of areas for deep geothermal potential. The airborne survey data has revealed extraordinary new detail to regional geological features which extend throughout the border region. New understanding of subsurface structures such as faults and igneous dykes is already helping to improve and update the Geological Survey of Ireland’s existing geological maps, which support sustainable planning countrywide.

A conference will be held in October 2013 to present the full findings from the survey and accompanying academic research projects. To register for notifications for upcoming data releases, please email your details to


Mairead Glennon, Kate Knights ( and Ray Scanlon, Geological Survey of Ireland, Dublin.

27th February 2013


Keep up to date

SEGH Events

30th SEGH Conference

Newcastle, UK

30 June 2014

Submit Content

Members can keep in touch with their colleagues through short news and events articles of interest to the SEGH community.

Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Release of mobile forms of hazardous elements from glassworks fly ash into soils 2014-04-17


    The release of hazardous elements from the wastes of high-temperature processes represents a risk to the environment. We focused on the alteration of fly ash (FA) from glassworks collected from an electrostatic filter. FA contains elevated concentrations of Zn and Ba, among other elements. Overtime, small amounts of FA have been emitted from the factory and settled into the surrounding environment (soil). In order to assess the possible risks to the environment, samples of FA were placed in small nylon bags and deposited in 11 different soil horizons (containing diverse vegetation cover such as spruce and beech and also unforested areas). Samples of the FA in bags were exposed in the soils for 1 year. Then, the bags were collected, and the exposed soils in the direct vicinity of the FA bags were sampled. The total concentrations of Zn and Ba in the FA, as well as in the soil samples (original and exposed), were determined by ICP MS. The “mobile fraction” was determined as the exchangeable (acid extractable) fraction of the modified BCR sequential extraction procedure (SEP). The SEP results indicate that Zn and Ba may pose a potential environmental risk. Their concentrations in the first, most mobile, and bioavailable fraction increased in all the exposed soils. The most significant increases were observed in the upper soil horizons (litter and A horizon). The risk to the environment was evaluated on the basis of the Risk Assessment Code.

  • Selected papers from the 29th SEGH Conference on Environmental Geochemistry and Health 2014-04-16
  • Urinary arsenic levels influenced by abandoned mine tailings in the Southernmost Baja California Peninsula, Mexico 2014-04-16


    Gold has been mined at San Antonio-El Triunfo, (Baja California Sur, Mexico) since the 18th century. This area has approximately 5,700 inhabitants living in the San Juan de Los Planes and El Carrizal hydrographic basins, close to more than 100 abandoned mining sites containing tailings contaminated with potentially toxic elements such as arsenic. To evaluate the arsenic exposure of humans living in the surrounding areas, urinary arsenic species, such as inorganic arsenic (iAs) and the metabolites mono-methylated (MMA) and di-methylated arsenic acids (DMA), were evaluated in 275 residents (18–84 years of age). Arsenic species in urine were analyzed by hydride generation-cryotrapping-atomic absorption spectrometry, which excludes the non-toxic forms of arsenic such as those found in seafood. Urinary samples contained a total arsenic concentration (sum of arsenical species) which ranged from 1.3 to 398.7 ng mL−1, indicating 33 % of the inhabitants exceeded the biological exposition index (BEI = 35 ng mL−1), the permissible limit for occupational exposure. The mean relative urinary arsenic species were 9, 11 and 80 % for iAs, MMA and DMA, respectively, in the Los Planes basin, and 17, 10 and 73 %, respectively, in the El Carrizal basin. These data indicated that environmental intervention is required to address potential health issues in this area.