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Scientific Research

In studying the internal structure of the Earth, the Geophysics section relies on the classical tools of seismology and the variations in the gravitational field supplemented by electromagnetic methods and theoretical geodynamic modelling.

In recent years, our research has exploited measurements from Space, of the effects of global ocean circulation on the Earth’s magnetic field to detailed images of the Earth’s mantle, obtained from combining earthquake waves recorded on worldwide seismometers, gravity and magnetic datasets.

Researchers within the section study the impact on the deep ocean of large atmospheric storms and the long term geophysical processes that lead to the formation of sedimentary basins, offshore Ireland. Through the installation of temporary high density seismic networks, significant advances were also made in our understanding of small earthquake populations in Ireland. We see superb examples of very small earthquakes (usually too small to be felt by humans) repeat slipping in an identical fashion. Hence even in a geographical location with little tectonic activity, there are very interesting dynamic processes at play.

Deployment of an Ocean Bottom Seismometer in 2018

These seismic networks are also leading to better images of sub-surface geological structure, which has implications for our understanding of how the Earth’s crust and its resources formed. Although DIAS has a remit to focus on fundamental research, nonetheless through the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geoscience (iCRAG) and collaborations with the Geological Survey, Ireland (GSI) the geophysics section has strengthened its collaboration with industry partners, over recent years.

Our fieldwork activities in recent years saw the deployment of Ocean Bottom Seismometers (OBS) in the NE Atlantic, the development of our of bespoke seismic networks in Iceland and the Galapagos, and electromagnetic networks on the Azores. These latter deployments both have a focus on volcanoes and both involve strong international collaborations.

The section had several new project successes in recent years, noteably the €1 million Euro European Space Agency (ESA) award to Zdenek Martenic, Sergei Lebedev and Javier Fullea entitled “3D Earth – A Dynamic Living Planet,” and a prestigious Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) award to Javier Fullea deriving from his successful A-rated European Research Council starter (ERC) application.

DIAS Geophysics use seismic and electromagnetic networks to monitor and image volcanic systems.

Others include, Sergei Levedev’s SFI/GSI/Marine Institute 2017 funded project (€1.25 Million), SEA-SEIS (Structure, Evolution and SEISmic hazard off the Irish offshore). Led by DIAS the project will also bring together collaborators from the Geological Survey Ireland, University of Oxford and GFZ Potsdam. In turn SEASEIS is made possible by the 2017 commissioned iMARL Marine Infrastructure award (€2.9 Million) to Chris Bean. SEA-SEIS will bridge our understanding of the NorthAtlantic – Arctic region, for the first time.

In terms of infrastructure, the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN) is in the process of expansion with support from the GSI.

For more detailed information on individual research projects and their research outcomes, see the staff page and the publications page.

Check out our most Recent Research Activies.