Trinity College Dublin: The Earth Surface Research Laboratory: a new high-tech laboratory for Ireland

Geological Survey Ireland and Trinity are today launching the Earth Surface Research Laboratory (ESRL), a new national facility providing state-of-the-art chemical analyses for the geoscience community on the island of Ireland. The laboratory hosts world-class facilities for the preparation and analysis of geological and environmental samples.

Ireland has a fascinating and diverse geology, formed over millions of years through the eruption of volcanoes, the opening and closing of oceans, the slow erosion of towering mountain ranges and finally, the recent glacial events that shaped our landscape. These geological processes have endowed the country with economically important mineral deposits and fertile soils which support a thriving agricultural industry.

However, to fully understand Ireland’s geological heritage and sustainably harness its natural resources, we need to know more than the simple distribution of different rock types – we need to know exactly what the rocks are made of, right down to individual elements.

The ESRL hosts a range of advanced equipment to interrogate the geochemistry of rocks and soils. This includes two X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, which can precisely determine elemental abundances down to trace concentrations, an Hg-analyser for specifically determining the abundance of mercury in environmental samples, and an elemental analyser for quantifying organic and inorganic carbon. These instruments are housed within clean rooms to prevent contamination and are supported by expert technical staff.

The laboratory will support Geological Survey Ireland’s Tellus geochemical survey – a major national programme to map elemental concentrations in soils, stream sediments and stream waters across Ireland. It will also be open to academic researchers, SMEs and other geological/environmental groups based on the island of Ireland in a non-commercial capacity. The facilities will enhance the world-class geoscience research conducted on the island of Ireland and will assist projects protecting Ireland’s unique natural environment.

The Earth Surface Research Laboratory launches online on Wednesday 23 June and will be accepting applications for access from interested researchers. Further information and access details can be found on the Earth Surface Research Laboratory website: https://www.tcd.ie/Geology/esrl/ .

Dr Michael Stock, Director of the Earth Surface Research Laboratory and a professor in Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, said:

“The Earth Surface Research Laboratory is a facility for the whole geoscience community on the island of Ireland, producing high quality data, using the most advanced equipment currently available. Our dual aims are to support national efforts to understand Ireland’s natural environment and to continue building Ireland’s international reputation as a centre for world-class geoscience research.”
Koen Verbruggen, Director of Geological Survey Ireland, a division of the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, said:

“I am delighted to announce our new collaboration with Trinity College Dublin and the team at the ESRL. This new facility will ensure analyses of our Tellus samples and represents a significant addition to National Geoscience Research facilities.”

Professor David Chew, Head of Geology at Trinity, said:

“This very exciting collaboration will be of great value to the geoscience community on the island of Ireland. Geological Survey Ireland’s Tellus programme and geoscience researchers will all benefit from the high-quality geochemical data produced by this state-of-the-art facility.”

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