Academic Research Projects using INSS data

By end 2005 more than 60 academic research projects have made use of INSS data. The abstracts that now follow give a flavour of the variety of uses to which the various INSS datasets can be put.

We are still waiting on abstracts from several individuals and as they arrive we will update this section until it is complete.

PhD Theses (or towards PhD)
Gavin Duffy
Janine Guinan
Margaret Wilson
Martin Kenirons
Fiona Grant
Xavier Monteys
Gavin Elliot
Lena Øverbø


MSc Theses
Archie Donovan
Niall Mc Cormack
DIT Bolton St.


Gavin Duffy: NUIG
Geophysical investigations on and offshore the River Shannon: implication for sedimentary processes and geoarchaeology.

Dividing Ireland almost in two and dominating the Irish midlands landscape, the River Shannon has acted as a formidable barrier to movement from East to West while providing a marine highway from North to South. It is the longest river in both Ireland and Britain, and has influenced the military, social and economic history of Ireland since man first set foot on this island. The discovery by a local diving team of the foundations for a medieval bridge at Clonmacnoise provided the impetus for an underwater archaeological survey using geophysical remote sensing. Using the acoustic techniques of side scan sonar, swath sonar bathymetry, and a sub-bottom profiler (Chirp), insights have been gained into the paleolandscape that existed at the time the bridge was built as well as the glacial geomorphology which shapes this landscape.

The Shannon has also played an important geologic role as the largest transporter of sediment from the Irish landmass out onto the continental shelf. In May 2004 the National Seabed Survey mapped an area of approximately 40 x 30 km off the Shannon Estuary between Kerry Head and Loop Head. It is hoped that detailed investigations of the acoustic, gravity and magnetic data acquired during the survey will give an insight into the Shannons contribution to the 'mass wasting' of Irelands landmass as well as submerged glacial and glaciofluvial structures. Much work has been done on the nature and distribution of glacially derived sediments on land but little work has been done on these features in a marine environment. The limits of the last ice-sheet is thought to have cut across the Shannon estuary. This area therefore provides a unique opportunity to look at marine and submerged features arising from the deglaciation of the Irish ice-sheet.


Janine Guinan: NUIG
Deep ocean habitat mapping using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV)

This project explores georeferenced multibeam and video datasets acquired during recent research cruises in the NE Atlantic, in particular from regions where carbonate mounds and deep-water corals occur in Zone 3. Regional multibeam data gathered as part of the National Seabed Survey dataset will serve as the geomorphological setting to this project. Groundtruthing information in the form of video and box core samples also collected during the NSS will add to seabed characterisation. ROV borne high resolution multibeam will be used to resolve features of the seafloor at the sub-metre scale for mega-faunal species identification. The major themes of this research are ecological spatial analysis, modelling and monitoring of deep-water marine benthic habitats. In early 2005 the NUIG research team proposes to carry out an ROV benthic habitat mapping survey and collect new high resolution datasets in Zone 3.

This work is being carried out under the National University of Ireland, Galway's Marine Science Research Project 3.2 funded by the Irish Higher Education Authority's Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions, Cycle III.


Margaret Wilson: NUIG
Deep ocean habitat mapping using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV)

This research project examines methods for benthic habitat mapping on the Irish continental slope at multiple scales. Ship-borne multibeam data from the Irish National Seabed Survey will be used as the basis for regional scale mapping and terrain modelling. Primary datasets for local habitat mapping include ROV-borne multibeam and video transect data. Parameters obtainable from these remote and in situ datasets are being evaluated for their relevance to benthic habitat and potential for habitat prediction. Spatial scale and pattern is also a key element of this research and is being considered particularly in relation to survey design for future ROV-based surveys.

The initial study areas are in the Porcupine Seabight, Porcupine Bank and Rockall Bank where existing video and ROV-borne multibeam data is available. The NUI, Galway research team plan to investigate additional sites on the continental slope during 2005.

This work is being carried out under the National University of Ireland, Galway's Marine Science Research Project 3.2 funded by the Irish Higher Education Authority's Programme for Research in Third Level Institutions, Cycle III.


Martin Kenirons: NUIG
Grid Enabled Data Mining on the Irish National Seabed Survey

The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) at present has 4.2 Tera-bytes of multi-beam data gathered over the last five years from the Irish National Seabed Survey at cost of €32 million. The main problem that arises from having so much data is how to extract accurate information from the data-set. As this amount of data would make extracting knowledge from such a data set by human observers infeasible, the focus has turned to using Artificial intelligence and computational methods for assistance. Given the size of this data-set even current high powered machines would be insufficient for such a task, with the exception of some supercomputers.

This has lead to our attention being turned to a computational resource known as the "Computational Grid" as other methods lack its security infrastructure. The grid can be defined as a large collection of computers linked via the Internet so that their combined processing power can be harnessed to work on difficult or time-consuming problems. The ocean floor, which covers approximately 70% of the Earth's surface, still contains vast areas which are largely unexplored. In truth less of the ocean floor has been mapped than either of the surfaces of the Moon, or Venus, which has been mapped in recent years by NASA's Magellan spacecraft.

Developments over the last 20 years have produced tools which allow the research community and industry to map the ocean floor in greater detail and over more extensive areas than previously possible. These tools are exclusively remote sensing ones and are extremely varied. Their application covers a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum and include ship-borne gravity and magnetic satellite measurement of sea surface height and temperature and seismic data. reflection and refraction, as well as side scan sonar and swath bathymetry techniques which produce images of the sea-floor. All of these methods, their associated processing techniques, and the interpretations they produce, are invaluable for research into the processes which shape the ocean floor. This project proposes to extract linearity's (anything with a sub-linear feature in the sea floor) in the data set using the Computational Grid. Linear features are often associated with objects of particular geological interest. On topographic maps, fractures (i.e. faults, joints and veins), fold crests and troughs all appear as sub-linear features. Layered sedimentary rock bed terminations also appear as linear features. The identification of such linear features is vital for interpreting the geological history of the area. The presence of fractures and fold crests are evidence of geological deformation and the orientations of these features help to identify the principal tectonic forces at work during deformation.


Fiona Grant: NUIG
Towards assessing the use of single-beam acoustic techniques in habitat mapping

Rapid, remote, acoustic survey techniques are being increasingly used to study marine habitats. When carefully calibrated to ground truth biology and sedimentology, acoustic methods can be used to cover broad areas of seafloor while discriminating surficial geology and related habitats. One of the methods being used as part of the Irish National Seabed Survey (INSS) is the use of the ECHOplus Seabed Discrimination System. The method stems from the premise that the strength of acoustic energy returned from the seafloor with a single beam sonar can be used to classify the bottom type.
The principle objective of this project was to assess the use of single-beam acoustic techniques in habitat mapping. The report provides a description of the EA600 single beam echo sounder, ECHOplus hardware, Microplot v. 7.0 software and the results of the Hardness & Roughness Algorithms as applied to Leg CE04_05 of the INSS.


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