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Offshore Earthquakes & Deep Sea Corals Among 26 Projects Awarded €45m By SFI

25th September 2017
The deep sea coral Solenosmilia variabilis, photographed during this past summer’s expedition to the Porcupine Bank The deep sea coral Solenosmilia variabilis, photographed during this past summer’s expedition to the Porcupine Bank Photo: Marine Institute

#MarineScience - Offshore earthquakes and cold water coral in subsea canyons in Irish waters are among 26 projects awarded €45 million in research investment through the Science Foundation Ireland's Investigators Programme, announced last week by Minister of State for Training and Skills, John Halligan.

“This funding recognises some of Ireland’s top researchers and enables them to advance vital research areas in Ireland,” said the minister. “I am confident that the teams being supported will generate important new scientific breakthroughs.”

The 26 research projects will support 94 research positions over the next five years.

“In addition, today’s investment provides 20 companies with access to invaluable expertise and infrastructure across the country,” said Minister Halligan. “These collaborations between industry and academia are integral to further enhancing Ireland’s reputation for research excellence.”

To strengthen and accelerate research in key strategic areas of national interest, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) collaborates with several funding agencies and public bodies through the SFI Investigators Programme.

Six of the research projects received co-funding worth a total of €3 million from Teagasc, the Geological Survey of Ireland, the Marine Institute, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Marine Institute and the Geological Survey of Ireland are co-funding two marine science awards with SFI to the value of €2.65 million.

Professor Sergei Lebedev of the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies (DIAS) has been awarded €1,248,989 to investigate the structure, evolution and seismic hazard of Ireland’s offshore territory.

With 90% of Ireland’s territory offshore, it represents vast resources but also hazards, with offshore earthquakes posing the biggest risk with the potential to trigger undersea landslides and tsunamis.

Prof Lebedev’s team will for the first time deploy an array of ocean-bottom, broadband seismometers offshore which, together with existing arrays onshore, will cover the entire Irish territory.

Professor Andy Wheeler of University College Cork has been awarded €874,329 to explore and monitor cold water corals in submarine canyons in the deep ocean and determine their sensitivity to climate change and fisheries and oil industry impacts.

Prof Wheeler’s team will used advanced robotic technology and novel 3D visualisation and will make recommendations for sustainable responsible fisheries and hydrocarbon activity and for effective management during climate change.

Dr Ciaran Kelly, R&D manager at the Marine Institute, said, “The Marine Institute is delighted to partner with SFI again in co-funding these important projects through the investigators programme, together with our INFOMAR programme partners, Geological Survey of Ireland.

“This collaboration will accelerate our knowledge of key processes of the deep ocean bringing longstanding benefits to society.”

For more information on the 26 projects funded through the SFI Investigators Programme see www.sfi.ie.

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