Geoscience Ireland Award

Geoscience Ireland Award

Sponsored by Geoscience Ireland 

The Geoscience Ireland award recognises exceptional achievement in design and/or delivery of projects requiring significant geo-scientific expertise. For example, involving geological, geochemical, geophysical, geotechnical or hydrogeological studies or projects in the development of natural resources, infrastructure and water services preferably but not exclusively in international markets.

Collaboration among different organisations is common practice on projects in the geoscience field, therefore we welcome joint entries to this award.

2019 Geoscience Ireland Award winner:

The 2019 Geoscience Ireland award was presented to CDE Meta for their initiative GFG Alliance, Overburden Beneficiation Plant SIMEC Mining.

2019 Geoscience Ireland Award finalists:

  • Improving drought resilience of Irish Water Groundwater Supplies in the South West by Arup
  • Lidl Regional Distribution Centre, Newbridge – Enabling Works Contract (Ground Improvement) by AGL Consulting, John Paul Construction and Newton Ground Engineering
  • Landslide Hazard and Risk Mapping in Guatemala City by Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions
  • Concrete End of Waste by Golder

Find out more about each of the shortlisted projects:

Improving drought resilience of Irish Water Groundwater Supplies in the South West by Arup

Arup’s Hydrogeology team assisted Irish Water with groundwater supply development and drought alleviation works at a time of “absolute drought” in the summer of 2018. Eight of Arup’s hydrogeologists audited over 90 Irish Water groundwater supply sites across Cork, Kerry and Limerick. Drilling of new boreholes for water supply where current supplies were failing was progressed concurrently. Over a 12-month period, the Arup team designed, drilled and tested 67 new water wells until completion on 31 August 2019.

The project included a broad range of challenges with significant variation between the sites, in terms of hydrogeological setting, land access, sensitive receptors and civil works required. Arup provided a strong hydrogeology lead to critically assess the sites and develop appropriate remedial programmes and designs for new wells. This ensured successful delivery via a robust procurement process, active contractor and client engagement throughout the construction phase.

The expert advice provided by Arup enabled Irish Water to define the vulnerabilities in the network and develop solutions to improve the resilience and sustainability of their groundwater supply assets in the south-western region. 

Lidl Regional Distribution Centre, Newbridge – Enabling Works Contract (Ground Improvement) by AGL Consulting, John Paul Construction and Newton Ground Engineering

The upper 3-4 m of ground on the site of the new €100 million Lidl Regional Distribution Centre in Newbridge, Co. Kildare, contained stratified layers of soft alluvial clay, loose gravel and peat, which were unsuitable for supporting the new 58,000m2 warehouse.  The Enabling Works Contract included a Contractor D&B element for ground improvement on the site.  AGL Consulting prepared the design for the main contractor – John Paul Construction - which involved excavating, mixing and blending the alluvial clay and gravel and processing them into structural fill by lime-cement stabilisation.  Soil stabilisation was also used to produce capping for the external pavements.  It is the largest stabilisation project of its kind in Ireland and it sets a new benchmark for materials that can be stabilised into high specification structural fill and capping.  Crucial to the success of the contract were the staged earthworks strategy devised by JPC, which allowed the building to be constructed in parallel with the ground improvement on a fast-track programme, and the state-of-the-art stabilisation equipment used by the specialist subcontractor – Newton Ground Engineering.

GFG Alliance, Overburden Beneficiation Plant SIMEC Mining by CDE Meta

In 2017, CDE designed and delivered two wet processing plants to South Australia, constructed to convert 17 million tonnes of low-grade iron ore overburden waste to high value product.  

The first of their kind within the Australian Mining industry, the CDE wet-processing plants are transforming 100+ years of legacy waste from life of mining to saleable product, injecting an estimated AUD 25million to the local economy and securing 1000+ jobs during a period of significant economic depression. 

In the context of depleting natural resources, the mining sector presents significant growth opportunities for efficient processing systems which allow for all valuable materials to be recovered and sold or re-used. CDE has made it its business to create a new world or resource and over the past 27 years has developed patented, novel solutions for industrial processing which not only protect and extend the life of the earth’s finite natural resources but add value to the customer’s bottom line. 

The GFG Alliance processing plants are testament to this mission, providing a novel approach to mine sustainability which represents best practise for business and environment.

Landslide Hazard and Risk Mapping in Guatemala City by Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions

Landslides affect tens of thousands of people every year in Guatemala, causing fatalities and generating considerable economic losses. Landslides are triggered by rainfall, earthquakes and human factors where the risk is exacerbated by poor land-use planning and urban sprawl into dangerous areas. In 2015, the El Cambray slide killed 300 people and buried over 100 homes. Hundreds of low-income families live at the crest of high-risk slopes and thousands of commuters face long delays from rockfalls on the main highways every month.

Analysing landslide behaviour in Guatemala is particularly complex due to the characteristics of the volcanic soils.  The Word Bank commissioned GDG in 2018 to undertake a landslide risk study in Guatemala City. Our team analysed conditioning and triggering factors that explain the spatial and temporal distribution of landslides and developed susceptibility and hazard maps to identify the locations most likely to be impacted by slope instability. This project culminated in a suite of dissemination events and workshops to communicate the project outcomes to the public, academics and local government providing tools for the safer management of landslide risks.

Concrete End of Waste by Golder

Golder prepared an end of waste (EOW) submission for the recycling of waste concrete to produce aggregate for use in construction. The submission gained regulatory approval from the EPA and is the first EOW decision granted for the construction sector in Ireland.
Construction activity in Ireland is generating significant volumes of waste concrete; landfill capacity for this material is limited.  A recovery goal of 70% non-hazardous construction and demolition waste is set for 2020. 
The EU Waste Framework Directive establishes EOW criteria subject to four factors being met. The key criteria proving that concrete reuse would not lead to ‘adverse environmental or human health effects’ was the significant challenge in this case.    
Potential risks from concrete aggregates include alkaline, metalliferous, and/or saline drainage. Leach testing was carried out on recycled aggregate samples.  Golder’s probabilistic modelling software ConSim© was used to estimate potential impacts and risks of leachate on aquifers under multiple scenarios incorporating characteristics of Irish aquifers.  A quality protocol was also prepared to ensure that the fully recovered products may be used without the need for waste management controls.