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by Michelle Clancy
Rumours that ‘there’s gold in them thar hills’ of County Waterford abounded last week, when it emerged that relatively high levels of the precious metal had been found along Waterford’s ‘gold coast’, from Dungarvan to Stradbally.
Archaeologists have long believed that the south east was once a major source of gold for Celtic jewellery makers.
Now, an ongoing geological survey called Tellus (run by the Geological Survey of Ireland) has revealed higher than expected levels of gold and platinum in streams and rivers across Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow.
Applying modern testing methods to stream samples collected in the 1980s, the survey has identified high gold values in streams in the Dungarvan to Stradbally area, thought to be sourced from 450 million-year-old volcanic rocks in the area. It’s hoped that this new data, along with additional data from samples due to be released later this year, will offer a fresh perspective of Ireland’s natural resources, with the scope for further exploration attracting additional inward investment.
Ireland is largely underexplored for a variety of precious metals and critical raw materials, according to Ray Scanlon, Principal Geologist at the Geological Survey of Ireland’s Tellus Programme.
“The Tellus geochemistry programme, which is underway across the country, continues to reveal fascinating and previously unknown details of Ireland’s natural resources. This type of geological information and understanding is vital not only for economic reasons but also for environmental, health and agricultural planning.”
Tellus aims to have surveyed 50% of the country by the end of 2017 and has plans to complete national surveying in the coming years.
A geochemical sampling survey will be undertaken with a team of agricultural scientists gathering stream samples across the West, Midlands and East over the next two years. The Tellus Programme also includes an airborne survey which will be active in the Waterford region later this spring and Galway later in the year.
In the meantime, anyone thinking of heading to the gold coast for a spot of spanning should take note: you are legally obliged to report to the authorities if you find more than 20 flakes of gold or any nuggets of two grammes or more. Such gold is regarded as belonging to the Stat e and you’d be breaking the law if you kept it!
Full story by Michelle Clancy here