Title: Development of Clare Subsurface Training Centre and securing the long-term future of Clare-based applied geoscience
Researchers: Dr Anthea Lacchia, Dr Geertje Schuitema, Prof. Peter Haughton
Project background This project involves the development of training and outreach facilities in west Clare. The rocks of West Clare, on the Irish Atlantic coast, are familiar to geologists worldwide. Building on a foundation of over 100 years of geological research, groups of geologists from industry and academia visit the area each year for training and research. The value of the area lies in its analogy with hydrocarbon-bearing, deep-water sedimentary successions on several continental margins, such as Miocene and Pliocene successions in the Gulf of Mexico. A joint project involving University College Dublin (UCD) and Statoil (now Equinor) has acquired over 1,350m of split core and associated data from 12 boreholes drilled behind the high sea cliffs in West Clare, Ireland. Drilling and wireline logging of the boreholes took place in three phases between 2009 and 2012 with data acquisition costs provided by Statoil (now Equinor) and two research studentships at UCD (now completed) supported by a Griffith Geoscience Award. The resulting cores and parallel field and biostratigraphic investigations have allowed the development of a new, high-resolution stratigraphic framework for the 500 m-thick Ross Sandstone Formation. The core was split, with one half being retained by UCD and one half by Equinor. Much of the UCD-half of the core is currently housed in UCD, part of it having been moved to a core store facility in West Clare on 06 June 2018, and the other half is held in Equinor’s offices in Bergen, Norway. A key goal of this project is to return the key sections of the UCD half of core to West Clare for training purposes, to be housed in a rented facility in the first instance. Funding will be provided by Equinor for the first three years, but the facility will need to become self-sustaining in the longer term, hopefully with engagement from the local community. The facility and the cores will serve as a valuable teaching and training tool for visiting academic field courses and industry groups who will be levied a fee (apart from Equinor) to support running costs on a not-for-profit basis. Returning the core to West Clare will also benefit the local economy through creation of jobs, generation of extra bed nights and an increased flow of visitors to businesses in the area. It is important to give something back to the local community that has been very supportive of the drilling project and of geologists in general since industry trips to the area began in the 1950s and 60s. With this in mind, the core store will also fulfil a wider education role as an education centre, showcasing aspects of geoscience to the public (local community, school groups and general visitors).
Project Aims -Develop and roll out outreach and public engagement activities in Clare (which can be rolled out via iCRAG channels across Ireland). -Conduct research into the public perception and understanding of geoscience in Clare, which will tie in with and inform display and outreach materials for the Clare subsurface centre. -Coordinate ongoing public consultation in Clare in order to maintain and strengthen ties with local community. -Support the development of the Clare subsurface training facility and ultimately work to secure its long-term future. -Develop new training products and protocols for use in the training centre.