You'll be seeing a lot more of this plane in Irish skies

The Tellus project will collect geophysical and geochemical data

You'll be seeing a lot more of this plane in Irish skies

Image: tellus.ie

Ireland is to be surveyed from the air as part of a geological mapping project.

The Tellus project will collect geophysical and geochemical data on rocks, soil and water across the country.

It is set to 'take off' over counties Mayo and Donegal in early March.

Involving a low-flying plane equipped with state-of-the-art technology, the aircraft will be based at Sligo Airport and traverse the skies of Mayo and Donegal into the autumn months - weather permitting.

The Department of Climate Action and Environment say the survey will assist in understanding the local environment, soil management and natural resource potential for these counties.

Previous phases of Tellus have prompted international interest in mineral exploration - and provided information for more detailed radon risk maps by providing an up-to-date, comprehensive picture of Irish geology.

Data collected throughout the project is to be made freely available on the Tellus website.

The airborne activity over Donegal follows on from previous surveying by the Tellus Border Project across eastern Donegal in 2011.

The Tellus team is led by the Geological Survey Ireland and funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE).

It expects to have surveyed 50% of Ireland by late 2017.

What the aircraft will look like | Image: DCCAE

Livestock concerns

Director of Geological Survey Ireland, Koen Verbruggen, said: "Tellus continues to unearth significant discoveries in relation to the geological composition of Ireland.

"By using the latest technology, the next phase of the survey will be delving deep into the environment and natural resources of two regions which are home to some of the oldest rocks in the country.

"With resulting data supporting the protection of public health, agricultural productivity and the assessment of natural resources, the work of the Geological Survey Ireland through the Tellus project continues to provide widespread benefits for the areas surveyed, and Ireland as a whole."

To gather data, the project has commissioned an aircraft equipped with geophysical technology, which surveys rural areas at a height of 60 metres - approximately eight times the height of a two-storey house.

The aircraft is a white twin propeller plane operated by the specialist survey company, Sander Geophysics Ltd, and is easily identified by its red tail, black stripe and registration number C-GSGF.

The airborne survey will operate safely within Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) permits.

However, Tellus say the sound of the plane flying overhead is similar to that of a passing lorry and could startle young animals and sensitive livestock, such as horses, pedigree cattle and poultry flocks.