Existing bathymetric charts for the north coast of Ireland are Victorian in vintage, compiled from lead-line soundings and sextant positioning. They are severely outdated and therefore unsuitable for marine research and stewardship. More importantly, due to the nature and size of marine archaeological artefacts and sites, these charts are wholly unsuitable for research as they are of such low-resolution that they offer little functional use in archaeological investigations.

To address the need for high-resolution bathymetric data, the Joint Irish Bathymetric Survey (JIBS) was instigated as a partnership between the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Marine Institute (MI), funded under the INTERREG IIIA Programme (€2,133,508). The JIBS project commenced on 10 April 2007 and was completed by 30 September 2008, providing [1] full-coverage multi-beam bathymetry data within the 3 nautical mile coastal strip from Fanad Head (Co. Donegal) to Torr Head (Co. Antrim) and [2] ground-truthed, geo-coded backscatter data for the same area.

JIBS coverage of the north coast from Lough Foyle to Fair Head, wioth water depths ranging from 240m (dark blue) to 3m (red). 

This Heritage Council project, funded under the INSTAR 2008-09 Programme, reflects cross-border and international co-operation, involving state agencies in the Republic (Marine Institute) and Northern Ireland (Environment Agency), with the Centre for Maritime Archaeology (CMA, University of Ulster) acting as principal investigator and the Geography Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) acting as allied researchers. All partners have a primary or major interest in marine affairs and are keen to assess the JIBS data for archaeological and palaeo-environmental information.