A major airborne survey of Ireland has reached its halfway stage, marking a significant milestone in one of the most important geological studies of the entire island to date. The Tellus Survey plane, which has just concluded five months of geophysics flights over western Donegal and Co Mayo, has touched down for the final time this year, ensuring 50% of the country is now officially ‘mapped’. The plane has become a familiar sight to many as the low-flying aircraft – equipped with state-of-the-art technology – traversed the sky as part of a significant geological mapping project led by the Geological Survey Ireland part of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE). The Tellus geophysics survey first started in 2005 when it mapped Northern Ireland. Since then it has covered the border counties, the North Midlands, a significant portion of the West and Waterford. Plans to survey the rest of the country are currently being developed. In 2017 alone the plane has flown a total of 46,346 km since ‘take off’ in April – a distance equivalent to flying from Dublin to San Francisco more than 5 times. Data collected from this year’s airborne survey will be added to existing survey maps to allow for county-wide geological insights and is due to be published in spring 2018. Previous phases of the Tellus survey across Ireland have prompted significant international interest in mineral exploration and provided information for more detailed radon risk maps by providing an up-to-date, comprehensive picture of the country’s geology. Minister for Natural Resources, Séan Kyne TD, commented: “The completion of the aerial survey of Mayo and Donegal marks a significant milestone for the Tellus survey with 50% of the country now surveyed. “The new data will further reveal the geological make-up of Ireland demonstrating the benefits of the Tellus Programme which include protecting public health, increasing agricultural productivity and allowing for a greater understanding of the country’s natural resources. I look forward to viewing the results from both counties early next year as Tellus continue to uncover the landscape of these regions.” Director of Geological Survey Ireland, Koen Verbruggen, added: “We’re delighted to reach this halfway milestone. Tellus continues to unearth significant discoveries in relation to the geological composition of Ireland – and as Donegal and Mayo are areas of internationally renowned geology, we are eagerly looking forward to the latest results. “Following a comprehensive communications campaign to ensure key stakeholders in Donegal and Mayo were informed of the survey and its purpose, we extend our thanks to all who worked closely with us to spread awareness – and particularly to local stakeholders who co-operated so effectively to ensure the survey ran safely and to schedule.” Following a period of data checking, mapped results from the airborne survey will be made freely available on the Tellus website (www.tellus.ie) in spring 2018 – allowing scientists, planners, industry specialists and environmentalists to better understand and manage our natural resources.