Symposium hears how GSNI contributes to the NI knowledge economy

Date published: 30 November 2017

As part of its 70th celebrations, the Geological Survey Northern Ireland is holding a symposium in W5, Belfast, to showcase its achievements over the decades and its commitment to public service.

GSNI is an office of the Department of the Economy staffed by scientists from the British Geological Survey to provide information, data, research and expertise on natural resources and planning issues to support the economy and protect the environment.

One hundred and twenty delegates from across the UK and Ireland are attending the symposium.  They will hear how GSNI provide baseline information for sustainable economies and societies; the importance of research and innovation in the geohazard management; how geoscience enhances tourism and supports education; Northern Ireland’s history of mineral exploration and its importance to the economy.  Other topics for discussion include the role that local geology has to play in the delivery of clean energy.

Director of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, Dr Marie Cowan said:  “Operating as a key player in Northern Ireland’s knowledge economy, the work of the Geological Survey NI is a critical factor in attracting foreign direct investment, development of indigenous natural resources balanced with a fundamental environment protection ethos. Minerals and other natural resources are essential to support a competitive, regionally balanced economy and a sustainable quality of life for everyone.  In the UK, trade in minerals and mineral based products contribute £66bn to exports.  Latest figures for 2016 show that the construction sector in NI is worth £2.3bn, 10.5% of the total GVA (an increase of 18.8% on 2015), a sector dependent upon aggregates and raw materials from local quarries. Fundamental to GSNI’s success over its 70 year history has been the continued development of our scientists’ expertise, data holdings and its work in direct partnership with all facets of society.”

Addressing the Symposium, Permanent Secretary at the Department for the Economy, Dr Andrew McCormick said: “GSNI has a wealth of scientific expertise on mineralisation, energy issues, hydrogeology and geotourism as well as the surveying and mapping capabilities.   The Department is much the richer for having GSNI within its ranks and I want to congratulate GSNI on 70 years of exemplary and award-winning public service for Northern Ireland.”

At the conclusion of the symposium delegates are being treated to a preview of three specially commissioned artworks.  These artworks will be part of a Landscapes from Stone exhibition which will open to the public at W5 on Friday 8 December and run until the end of March 2018.  The exhibition will also feature a series of stunning landscape photographs and a range of geological maps dating from 1840 to the present day. 

Notes to editors: 

  1. There will be a range of interactive exhibits at the conference for delegates including:
  • A display of core, rock specimens and thin sections from GSNI’s national core store;
  • A showcase of GSNI’s subsurface data archive, both hard copy and digital data, and site survey information needed to de-risk ground condition issues in construction projects;
  • A tank to model groundwater abstraction and pumping beneath the surface;
  • A virtual reality headset experience of the caves at Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark led by GSNI research partners at QUB.

2. All media queries should be directed to the Department for the Economy Press Office on 028 9052 9604Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @Economy_NI

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