Alberta Geological Survey

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Alberta Geological Survey
Agency overview
Formed 1921
Agency executives
  • Corey Froese, Group Manager
  • Matt Grobe, Provincial Geologist
Parent agency Alberta Energy Regulator

Alberta Geological Survey is part of the Alberta Energy Regulator, a provincial agency of the Government of Alberta. Alberta Geological Survey provides geological information and expertise to government, industry and the public about Alberta’s Earth resources and geological processes for resource stewardship and sustainable development.


Geological surveys exist at the provincial/territorial and federal levels of government in Canada. The complementary roles and responsibilities of provincial geological surveys and the federal survey, the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), are defined in the Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord, which was signed by the Ken Hughes, Alberta Minister of Energy, at Canada’s Annual Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference in September, 2012.

The roots of Alberta Geological Survey (AGS) go back to 1912, one year after the founding of the University of Alberta. Dr. Henry Marshall Tory, then president of the university, appointed Dr. John Allan to initiate the teaching of geology and establish a new Geology Department at the U of A. Dr. Allan took up the challenge and stayed on as Professor of Geology for nearly 40 years, with 37 of those years as head of the Geology Department.

In 1920, Dr. Allan delivered to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta the first government report on the mineral resources of the province. Dr. Allan reported on 18 different mineral resources known to occur in the province at that time. That report marks the beginning of AGS. Alberta Geological Survey was created in 1921, by Order in Council of the Alberta government, as a core part of the Scientific and Industrial Research Council, later the Alberta Research Council (ARC). Alberta Geological Survey was a department in ARC until it was transferred to the Alberta Department of Energy in 1995. Since 1996, AGS has been part of the Alberta government's Energy Resources Conservation Board (previously called the Energy and Utilities Board).

The manager of AGS represents Alberta on the National Geological Surveys Committee, which governs the implementation of the Intergovernmental Geoscience Accord and fosters cross-jurisdictional survey co-operation in Canada.


The specific mission of AGS is to provide data, information, knowledge and advice about the geology of Alberta needed by government, industry and the public for earth-resource stewardship and sustainable development in Alberta. Geological processes, like sedimentation, glaciation, mountain building and landslides, have shaped Alberta and provided Albertans with a wealth of Earth resources. Mapping and documenting these processes are key to understanding Alberta's current and untapped resources.

2009-2010 Fiscal Year Programs[edit]

From its earliest beginnings, AGS and its related predecessor departments have been charged with delivering geological knowledge to Albertans about their land, resources and environment. The AGS today delivers knowledge through 6 programs:

Geological Mapping[edit]

AGS provides geological mapping at a scale of 1:250,000 or larger, geochemical surveys and thematic studies across Alberta. Maps, reports and databases are available to industry, government and the public for resource management and economic development. A main goal of the program is to produce a digital geological atlas of the upper 500 metres of Alberta’s subsurface.

Program Goals

1. Compile a new digital atlas of Alberta, starting with the surficial and near-surface geology of Alberta, with first product releases beginning in 2012.

2. Complete the surficial geology mapping of Alberta.

Resource Assessment[edit]

This program focuses on appraisals and geological studies of Earth resources in Alberta, notably industrial minerals, sand and gravel, metals, uranium, and the diamondiferous kimberlites of the Buffalo Head Hills and Birch Mountains kimberlite fields of the Northern Alberta kimberlite province. It also adds to the geological knowledge of Alberta’s unconventional gas and coal resources.

Program Goals

1. Write a report summarizing Alberta’s endowment of mineral, aggregate and unconventional energy resources by 2012.

2. Describe and report on the geology of occurrences and abundances of Earth materials of economic interest and value in Alberta.

Groundwater and Geosystems[edit]

Alberta Geological Survey is working in partnership with Alberta Environment to map and inventory Alberta’s groundwater resources in support of Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy. This program builds on the success of past partnerships to understand groundwater geology of Alberta’s oil sands regions and define Alberta’s base of groundwater protection.

Program Goals

1. Inventory the nonsaline groundwater resources in Alberta.

2. Inventory the saline aquifers in Alberta and characterize them in terms of their relative value for groundwater production, aquifer storage and retrieval schemes, geothermal energy production, waste disposal, and CO2 sequestration.

Geological Hazards[edit]

On-site investigation techniques and remote-sensing technology are used to understand geological hazards associated with land movement in Alberta’s mountains, foothills, along major river valleys and in areas of melting permafrost. Alberta Geological Survey uses advanced petroleum geomechanical techniques to understand and evaluate cap rock integrity, as well as surface heave and subsidence impacts of subsurface fluid injection, production and storage. Alberta Geological Survey also operates the monitoring system at the Turtle Mountain Geological Field Laboratory, site of the historic Frank Slide.

1. Investigate and report on naturally occurring, physical geological hazards in Alberta.

2. Investigate and report on anthropogenic, physical geological hazards in Alberta.

Knowledge Management[edit]

Alberta Geological Survey manages and archives the province’s growing geological survey data and information holdings. You can obtain geological reports and maps from the AGS Information Centre and view interactive GIS maps online.

Program Goals

1. Create a centralized information store of AGS-held digital geological information.

2. Provide Albertans with access to AGS information and knowledge about Alberta’s geology and resources through its publications, website and the Mineral Core Research Facility.

Office of the Provincial Geologist[edit]

The Office of the Provincial Geologist (OPG) provides leadership and management at AGS, supports the overall management of the ERCB Resources Branch and co-ordinates AGS support of regulatory activities within ERCB. The OPG supports the activities of the National Geological Surveys Committee and the Committee of Provincial and Territorial Geologists.

Program Goals

1. Ensure AGS knowledge and expertise are available and accessible.

2. Ensure the AGS office and facilities are operated in a safe, efficient and professional manner.

External links[edit]