AggrePOP

Aggregate Potential of Irish South Coast Offshore Palaeovalleys (AggrePOP)

Sand and gravel aggregate deposits are a vital natural resource, providing essential raw materials to the construction industry. They are used in many ways but one of their main functions is as a component of concrete. During the last economic boom, the aggregate demand in Ireland was met with extraction from terrestrial sources with localised resource depletion evident around several major population centres. The demand for aggregate material during this period was estimated by the Irish Concrete Federation (ICF) to be approximately 130 million tonnes, which equates to approximately four times the EU average per capita demand. Aggregates are non-replenishable resources with the potential for demand to outstrip supply in subsequent construction booms. Marine aggregate resources have advantages over terrestrial supplies in that they are often cleaner and less prone to pyrite contamination. This research aims to evaluate the aggregate potential off the south coast of Ireland which could provide necessary resources for future urban development in Cork city and the surrounding area.

The study area for this project involves 8 selected sites off the south coast of Ireland. These sites target the offshore extension of the Rivers Bandon, Lee, Blackwater, Colligan, and Suir. These palaeovalleys were formed when sea level was approximately 150m lower than present during the last glaciation and pro-glacial river systems extended across the present shelf to the shelf break. These channels were then plugged with sediment which has the potential to provide valuable aggregate resources.

The study area for this project involves 8 selected sites off the south coast of Ireland. These sites target the offshore extension of the Rivers Bandon, Lee, Blackwater, Colligan, and Suir. These palaeovalleys were formed when sea level was approximately 150m lower than present during the last glaciation and pro-glacial river systems extended across the present shelf to the shelf break. These channels were then plugged with sediment which has the potential to provide valuable aggregate resources.

This project aims to:
– Delimit the seabed outcrop of drowned palaeovalleys off the south coast of Ireland and map their 3-dimensional fill;
– To quantify south coast offshore marine aggregate resources (second-pass reconnaissance)
– To physically and petrographically characterise aggregate from sample material
– To determine aggregate product potential including niche high-value resources
– To develop generic models of offshore multiphase palaeovalleys to better predict aggregate occurrences.