Seabed survey seminar bridging gap between research and industry


The Annual INFOMAR Seminar on one of the world’s largest seabed mapping programme took place this week at University of Limerick (9-10th October) with updates on Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme.

Archie Donovan, Geological Survey of Ireland, highlighted INFOMAR's recent mapping achievements saying, “We have made significant progress towards the delivery of national targets identified in our national integrated marine plan, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, and supporting ocean energy, marine tourism, environment, and shipping and trade development and management. “

A key focus of the conference is to bridge the gap between research and industry and the potential for innovation, research, and business opportunities from the mapping data and activities. Among the SME’s presenting their innovations in this area were Gavin Duffy, RealSim Ltd who presented their mapping and visualisation technology and Francis Flannery, SonarSim Ltd, who spoke about the benefits of multidisciplinary research collaboration from an SME perspective.

Tommy Furey, Marine Institute, said “There are significant scalable commercial opportunities relating to INFOMAR supported technology outputs, linking industry needs to research applications. The programme has already generated industry partnerships, for example, Geomar & Highland Geosolutions, and there are global opportunities for Ireland to deliver marine technology solutions, leveraging the internationally recognised INFOMAR brand.”


Francis Flannery, Sonar Sim Ltd. (Photo by Peter Blake)


A session on ‘Mapping Requirements & Mapping Technologies’, included a presentation on the need for mapping of Ireland’s vast & valuable seaweed resources by Dagmar Stengel (NUIG).   Tim McCarthy, (NUIM) examined the use of unmanned autonomous vehicles in seabed mapping as well as the challenges that brings.  

The seminar hosted by the Mobile & Marine Robotics Research Centre, included a presentation by  Dr. Andy Wheeler, UCC about the Moytirra Vent,  a new type of hydrothermal vent, discovered onboard the national research RV Celtic Explorer in 2011 by a team of Irish and international scientists.

There was also an update on the mapping of shipwrecks and collaboration between the Underwater Archaeology Unit and the INFOMAR Programme as well as a look at the investigation of INFOMAR mapped shipwrecks by divers on the North Coast of Ireland.

INFOMAR, is a joint venture between the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute, follows on from the Irish National Seabed Survey. Covering some 125,000 km² of Irelands most productive and commercially valuable inshore waters, INFOMAR will produce integrated mapping products covering the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed. INFOMAR has prioritised the surveying of 26 bays and 3 priority areas around the coast of Ireland. For more information visit