Liftoff as geological survey takes to the skies in westmeath

The airborne phase of a major geological-mapping survey, Tellus North Midlands, has resumed in Longford, Roscommon and Westmeath after a temporary winter break. 

The project is being conducted by the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and is funded by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Two small aircraft, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, are currently traversing the North Midland counties (weather permitting), collecting data on the soils and rocks which, once analysed, will greatly enhance understanding of the environment in the region.

The aircraft, which are based at Weston Airport, Co. Dublin, fly at an altitude of 90 metres (approx. eleven times the height of a two-storey house) over rural areas.

This increases to 240 metres as they fly over towns and more densely populated areas. All surveying takes place during daylight hours, seven days a week; however this is totally dependent on weather conditions.

Once complete, the Tellus North Midland findings will be made freely available to members of the public and all interested groups.

The project has the potential to deliver significant long-term benefits, encouraging investment in mineral exploration, enabling better environmental management and enhancing agricultural productivity in the region.

Mairéad Glennon, Project Manager at the Geological Survey of Ireland, commented: “We’re delighted to announce that after a temporary break in flying over the winter period, both of our aircraft are taking to the skies to complete this highly significant phase of the Tellus North Midlands project.

“Communications are critical to the success of the survey and we’ve operated an extensive awareness-raising campaign since the survey began last August. The level of public support and general interest in the project has been most encouraging.

“We would like to extend our thanks to the IFA, Irish Aviation Authority and the many clubs and organisations that have helped us spread the word across the region.

'Their support has been crucial and we’re looking forward to working closely with all our partners as we complete the final phase of the North Midland survey,” said Ms Glennon.

“In addition to the airborne survey, a team of specialists has completed a geochemical soil survey of the same area, collecting some 4,500 soil samples. We would like to extend our thanks to landowners and livestock owners who have assisted us greatly in the collection of these samples,” continued the Project Manager at the Geological Survey of Ireland.

The survey aircraft are white, single-propeller Cessna planes and can be easily identified by their registration numbers VH-ZKB and VH-ZKG. The sound of the plane overhead is less than that of a passing lorry, but could disturb sensitive livestock such as horses, poultry, pedigree cattle and deer if they are outdoors.

Animal owners or individuals who have concerns about the Tellus North Midlands survey can contact our Freephone information line on 1800 303 516 or visit