GeoConnect³d for recovery

As the previous blog in the series said “…we will get through this global crisis, and when we do, we intend to be one step closer to the future of geology.”  Geoscience will play a vital role in national and European economic recovery after this pandemic.  Our data, maps and models will be crucial to resource exploration and management, environmental protection and job creation.

The return to scientific and economic activity will be an opportunity to go ‘back to the future’; to prioritise our efforts for economic recovery on accelerated climate action.  Energy decarbonisation through greater emphasis on geothermal energy and wider demonstration of CCS has the potential to provide large numbers of jobs.  Opportunity for growth and jobs also lies in stimulating exploration for minerals through a structural approach to mineral potential mapping.  GeoConnect³d and its innovation in assessment of and exploration for natural resources in their structural framework will be a tool in our armoury, fresh thinking leading to new discoveries. 

In the Government of Ireland Climate Action Plan, Geological Survey Ireland has tasks that include an evaluation of natural resources concealed by the cover of cutaway bog in the Midlands– a project that brings together geothermal energy, mineral exploration and environmental protection as part of a ‘Just Transition’ for these areas of old-energy industry.  This project remains key as we plan the GSI role in Ireland’s post-Covid19 national economic recovery. 

What resources lie beneath the peat?

In Ireland, our wealth of bog land is a vast store of carbon, but has, for too long now, been exploited as a source of low-grade fossil fuel.  Ending stripping and burning of peat for electricity is an obvious emissions-reduction action.  But there are social and political considerations that demand fair treatment for those workers whose current livelihoods will be affected.  In the Midlands project, GSI will map and explore for natural resources to provide alternative employment for communities affected by the switch to clean renewable energy.  The poorly known geology hidden by extensive peat deposits is likely to include: glacio-fluvial sand and gravel aggregates, to supply renewed construction; geothermal energy, for horticulture or to replace peat-derived energy; zinc and other metals in the Carboniferous limestone bedrock.  At the same time, the groundwater of these karstified limestone areas – a major source of both drinking water and flooding hazard – must be protected.  New seismic surveys, deep drilling and mineral potential mapping will be guided by an understanding of the structural framework.  GeoConnect³d, as a way of thinking, is at the heart of this. 

In these difficult times, let’s look forward to going back to the future, assisting our countries and Europe in their economic recovery by working together and staying GeoConnect³d.

Brian McConnell
GSI – Geological Survey Ireland

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