New Marine Maps Unlock Ireland's Underwater Economic Potential

Map of the Aran Sound in Galway BayExciting new developments in Ireland's capacity to uncover its past and explore its future economic potential will be revealed today and tomorrow (16th and 17th November) at a seminar on underwater mapping at the Marine Institute in Galway.

Speakers at this annual seminar of the INFOMAR (INtegrated Mapping FOr the Sustainable development of Ireland's MARine Resource) programme will discuss the discovery of new and historic underwater wreck sites, the application of seabed mapping in the selection of sites for generating wave energy, the protection of fish spawning grounds, and the planning of fish farm sites.

The INFOMAR programme is a jointly managed programme between the Marine Institute and the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and is funded by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCNER).
Wreck of the SS. Manchester Merchant

The event will also feature the latest results from a range of EC funded marine mapping initiatives and stunning underwater footage from the recent Irish mission to the volcanic vents of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge over 3,000 metres below the surface of the sea.

Opening the seminar Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute said, "Ireland is leading the way for Europe in marine mapping and in laying the foundations for the sustainable management of our ocean space. Surveying the gateways to our ports, mapping our fish spawning grounds, finding routes for marine telecommunications cables and selecting the best sites for ocean energy generation all rely on accurate seabed mapping capability, which Ireland now possesses."

In addition to its large scale marine mapping remit, INFOMAR's Value Added Programme is co-ordinating an integrated multidisciplinary approach to the handling, processing and application of its ever-expanding marine data set.
Deepwater photograph from the mid-Atlantic Ridge

As a result of its latest call for research proposals, INFOMAR received 32 submissions for studies on such subjects as the appraisal of seabed data for tidal energy generation, the integration of satellite and marine data for coastal mapping and the use of new graphic animation techniques to integrate environmental information into seabed mapping displays.

"INFOMAR is a key mechanism to unlock the economic potential of our ocean territory," said Koen Verbruggen of the GSI. "By linking industry and academia to the realisation of our government's objectives and requirements around sustainable ocean development we will strengthen Ireland's position on this new frontier and expand our capability to deliver services and solutions to all marine sectors – in Ireland, in Europe and across the world."

Wreck of the sunken Guinness ship W.M. Barkley off Dublin Bay
As well as looking to the future, Ireland's maritime past will be explored in a presentation by the Underwater Archaeology Unit of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on the discovery of a probably late 16th century wreck off Rutland Island, Co. Donegal. The wreck, which may have been an armed merchant ship, a pirate or naval vessel potentially associated with the local Gaelic lordships or the Spanish Armada of 1588, is an extremely important find that could add greatly to our understanding of Ireland's maritime heritage.

The INFOMAR project is supported by the National Development Programme.

For a full selection of images from the INFOMAR project, please go to:


For further information and full symposium programme please contact:
Dr. John Joyce - Communications Manager, Marine Institute - 087 2250871

The INFOMAR (INtegrated Mapping FOr the Sustainable Development of Ireland's MARine Resource) programme is a joint venture between the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Marine Institute and is the successor to the Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS). Covering some 125,000 square kilometres of underwater territory, INFOMAR project will produce integrated mapping products covering the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed.

The surveys are carried using a range of ships and aircraft, including the Marine Institute's RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager, GSI's inshore launches RV Keary and RV Geo, and Airborne LIDAR.
The programme uses ship-mounted acoustic multibeam sonar and geophysical technology to provide vital information on water depth for safe shipping, as well as analyse the properties of the seabed for information that can guide fishing, ocean renewable development, environmental protection, and marine archaeology.