Researchers have made an extraordinary discovery of 330 million-year-old volcanoes beneath the ground in the middle of Ireland.
The discovery – part of the government’s Tellus programme – was made near Mullingar, by the border of Co Westmeath and Co Offaly.
They used the latest mapping technology which was transported in a low flying aircraft in order to get their readings.
The plane flew 90 metres above the ground, which was close enough to allow the technology to see through the deep glacial deposits and extensive peat cover below.
The process uses three instruments which measure the magnetism, conductivity and natural radiation of the rocks and soils below.
The technology was able to trace 300 million-year-old rock formations. It also found bands of volcanic rocks near Strokestown Co Roscommon. The rocks are part of a fault line that reaches Scotland.
Principal geologist at the Geological Survey of Ireland Ray Scanlon said: “Tellus continues to reveal extraordinary new detail in Ireland’s geological landscape buried beneath our feet, building upon existing data gaps and developing natural resource opportunities.
“An understanding of Ireland’s geology is vital for environmental, health and economic reasons and the data will be welcomed by a broad range of stakeholders for agricultural, radon prevention, groundwater protection and mineral exploration purposes.”
The Tellus programme was set up to discover more about the geological identity of Ireland. It began in 2007 and they hope to have covered half of the island by 2017.
It is currently in its fourth phase which takes in much of the east of the country including Offaly, Kildare, Meath, Dublin and northern parts of Wicklow and Laois.