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


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    Graphical Abstract