Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

€2.9m iMARL will boost Irish marine research

As Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment I recently launched a €2.9 million iMARL marine monitoring infrastructure which is a partnership between the Dublin Institute for Advance Studies, the Geological Survey of Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and NUI Galway.

The iMARL lab includes vibration sensors on the seafloor, water temperature sensors, and underwater sounds recorders which will be placed off the West Coast. The project has many practical uses and will help detect offshore earthquakes, allow us to image beneath the surface of the sea floor, identify seabed disturbances associated with large Atlantic storms and passively track the presence of whales and dolphins.

 

Speech – Minister of State Seán Kyne TD

 I’m delighted to be here today to speak at the launch of the new iMARL marine monitoring infrastructure, here at the Commissioners of Irish Lights, and I would like to thank the staff of CIL, the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies and Geological Survey Ireland for hosting this event this afternoon.

As you may know, Ireland’s marine territory is ten times the size of our landmass, and as an island nation we, in Ireland, have had a long and enduring relationship with our coastline and the marine environment. And endeavouring to better understand the fascinating and complex seas and oceans around us have been pursuits of generations upon generations of Irishmen and Irish women.

In more recent years, we have benefited from a greater coordination of efforts with the work of programmes such as the INFOMAR marine mapping programme funded by my Department.

This new investment of €2.9m for the iMARL marine lab will take this work even further.

 

In 2016 the Ocean Wealth Economic Study, showed the total direct and indirect value of the marine economy was 1.7% of GDP, over €3.37bn in Gross Value added and directly employed over 30,000 people.

A study commissioned by GSI last year showed a further 15,000 people are employed directly in the geoscience sector, many in the area of energy and marine based activities.

Therefore the scale of this sector is highly significant and this is why the Government is providing strong support, implementing the Ocean Wealth plan, which is overseen by the interdepartmental Marine Coordination Group.

From its beginnings in 1940, few could have imagined the extent of the value and usefulness of the research undertaken by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS).

Today, as DIAS launches this new in situ marine monitoring system, we witness a new era of technological development, national investment and multi-disciplinary research collaboration.

The Nobel Prizewinner Erwin Schroedinger was the first Director appointed at the Institute. Today, it is home to 120 researchers and is a truly global institution.

The organisation also manages the Dunsink Observatory and coordinates a range of national initiatives on behalf of government, including the Irish National Seismic Network which is now run with support from the Geological Survey of Ireland.

 

DIAS is a world leader in terms of its research. One example is the research on how the North Atlantic Ocean was formed which led directly to a radical reclassification of the Rockall and Porcupine basins and showed the Irish continental shelf to be much larger than previously thought.

This discovery has had direct legal and diplomatic consequences and was decisive in UN discussions on our national territory under the Law of the Sea.

Current work from the Geophysics Section of DIAS includes imaging and understanding of

  • the Earth’s structure and dynamics,
  • the formation of oceans, continents and mountain ranges,
  • the location of natural resource (including minerals, oil and gas) and
  • hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

 

The partnership between DIAS and GSI (from within my own Ministerial area of Natural Resources) has strengthened over the last number of years and we are happy to support the improvement of both onshore and offshore geoscience monitoring systems. More and more we are looking to the marine environment for our resources, including energy, transport, food and communications. There are so many questions to be answered; so much research to be undertaken to help us fully understand the seas and oceans around us; to learn more about the potential resources therein and how best to manage them; to better understand climate change, what the risks and hazards are and perhaps how we can best prepare to combat climate change. This new infrastructure being launched today will provide the information to allow us to answer these questions and more.

The iMARL lab will include vibration sensors on the seafloor, water temperature sensors, and underwater sounds recorders. This equipment can:

  1. detect offshore earthquakes,
  2. allow us to image beneath the surface of the sea floor,
  3. identify seabed disturbances associated with large Atlantic storms and
  4. passively track the presence of wales and dolphins.

Importantly, we will also be able to use part of the monitoring network for real time information about potential tsunami waves from seafloor collapse, something that may be more likely with increasing storm activity. This is something of particular interest to the Geological Survey and will ultimately feed into our national emergency planning.

Cabhróidh sé leis an SEAI (Údarás Fuinnimh Inmharthana na hÉireann) le tógraí fuinnimh amach ón gcósta.

Cabhróidh sé le GSI (Suirbhéireacht Gheolaíochta Éireann) lena gcuid oibre ar mhapáil ar thóin na farraige agus ar shúnámaí farraige agus crith talún.

Cabhróidh sé leis an bpobal taighde idirnáisiúnta tuiscint níos fearr a fháil ar acmhainní fo-mhuirí (nó fharraige) agus stóráil charbóin.

Beidh an t-eolas seo luachmhar do go leor grúpaí a bhaineadh úsáidí suntasach as.

Cuirfidh na sonraí a bailiú ón saotharlann iMARL faisnéis ar fáil faoi tóin na farraige ar an Atlantaigh Thuaidh agus an córas aigéan (aggane).

 

iMARL will also support a number of important government initiatives and strategies recently published, including the GSI Research Roadmap, the National Marine Research Strategy, Innovation2020, the Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan, DCCAE Statement of Strategy, EPA Research Strategy, Met Éireann Strategy, Commissioners for Irish Lights strategy and SFI research centres such as iCRAG and MaREI.

The infrastructure could not have been possible without support from Science Foundation Ireland, and I am happy to see continued support from SFI in the wider area of Natural Resources. Indeed, GSI has been working closely with SFI and other national agencies to increase the visibility of research in this area and today’s launch highlights one of the many recent successful collaborations.

 

Cuirfidh iMARL ar ár gcumas mar thír meadú ar rannpháirtíocht i dtionscnaimh Eorpacha, mar shampla EPOS ( European Plate Observing System)

Oibríonn taighdeoirí i DIAS go dlúth lena gcomhghleacaithe san Eoraip, sna Stáit Aontaithe agus níos faide ná sin agus tá a fhios agam go leanfaidh siad ag forbairt na gcaidreamh oibre seo ar fud an domhain.

Taispeánfaidh iMARL an cumas eolaíoch agus taighde atá againn in Éirinn agus spreagfaidh sé agus déanfaidh sé taighde idirnáisiúnta a éascú.

 

In closing, I wish DIAS and the team the best of luck with the new venture and I hope that the equipment you see here today will soon be sending us back information about everything from passing whales to the influence of storms on the seabed. Go raibh mile maith agaibh go léir.

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