INFOMAR to Conduct First Extensive Survey of Galway Bay Since 1850

The INFOMAR inshore marine survey, which is being carried out in partnership by the Marine Institute and the Geological Survey of Ireland, is preparing for the first extensive survey of Galway Bay since 1850.

The work will be carried out aboard the national research vessel, R.V. Celtic Voyager, which is fitted with a new high performance EM3002 shallow water multibeam echosounder system, providing extremely high resolution information. It is designed for detailed seafloor mapping in water depths of up to 150m; perfect for Galway Bay.

INFOMAR represents the second phase of the groundbreaking Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS), which has already mapped over 80% of the offshore areas of Ireland’s 220 million acre marine territory. This survey will tie in with previous survey work, including an airborne LiDAR survey, conducted in 2006. 

Surveying, for navigation purposes, in Greater Galway Bay was last undertaken between 1845 and 1850 by Captain G.A. Bedford for the British Admiralty, using a lead-line.  

The shipping lane was surveyed in 2001 by the precursor to INFOMAR, the Irish National Seabed Survey, and sections of the inner easterly bay were surveyed by NUI-Galway in 1984, Galway City Council in 1999 and the Galway Harbour Company between 2000 and 2003.  

Operating in waters deeper than 10m, the INFOMAR survey will start work to the north of Ballyvaughan and will map seabed features such as the Aughinish Shoal and Finavarra Spit in the south of the Bay and the Kilcolgan and Henry Ledges to the west of Tawin Island.  



The INFOMAR survey commenced in January 2006. Phase one is expected to run until 2015.  

* INFOMAR is the acronym for Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Ireland’s Marine Resource.  

INFOMAR intends to deliver a range of data products that will be of use in the following areas:  

  • Oil and gas exploration
  • Cable and pipeline installation
  • Coastal zone management Renewable energy (from wave, wind and tide)
  • Aquaculture Aggregate (sand and gravel extraction)
  • Coastal engineering Foreshore licensing
  • Inshore fisheries
  • Port security and safety
  • Environmental monitoring and conservation
  • Shipping and navigation.  

Such information is already in great demand in terms of oceanographic modelling to predict ocean currents and conditions, tidal prediction, habitat mapping, ecosystem management for fisheries, as input to Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)s and climate change modelling.  

The work will be carried out from a range of platforms including the Marine Institute’s research vessels RV Celtic Voyager and Celtic Explorer, which have already been the main platforms for the INSS.  

The three core elements of the INFOMAR programme are;

Data Acquisition, Data Management and Interpretation – including a ten year programme to produce hydrographic, seabed classification and habitat maps as well as a common suite of surveying standards to be issued by relevant licensing authorities in the marine area.  

Data Exchange and Integration – to establish a National Marine Data Discovery and Exchange Service to assist researchers, policy makers and public or private sector users, as well as adopting standard operating procedures in data management across a wide range of agencies.  

Value Added Exploitation – to deliver advanced decision support tools and solutions to assist both policy and commercial decision makers, develop a public/private partnership to securing marine survey and consultancy contracts, as well as a programme of national and international value-added research using skills and data from both the INSS and INFOMAR