Bedrock Modelling

Bedrock Modelling

The Alberta Geological Survey continues to make significant progress on mapping and modelling Alberta’s bedrock geology. Recent bedrock mapping activities have focused on producing high-resolution submodels in strategic locations to support decisions and enhance our ability to communicate complex geology and subsurface geoscience information to users with various levels of background knowledge. Our bedrock models have been used to help resolve a wide variety of geology-related issues, including locating induced seismic events, predicting volumes of formations containing groundwater and hydrocarbon resources, assessing the proximity of wells to potential subsurface hazards, and analyzing the spatial arrangement of integrated resources. Once a submodel has been completed, it is integrated into the provincial three-dimensional (3D) Geological Framework to enhance our understanding of these geological units across the province.

Figure 1. Location of 3D bedrock submodels within Alberta.

Click on the regions below to learn more about their framework and modelling:

Successful use of these models for decision support is contingent on well-documented and transparent processes used to generate reproducible and scientifically credible predictions. The bedrock models are created using a workflow designed to assess the quality of the available data, geostatistically evaluate and optimize the model interpolation based on information from our geologists, predict model uncertainty, and determine whether additional refinements are necessary before the model results are finalized (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Overview of the Bedrock modelling workflow.

All model input parameters and output statistics are captured and stored to ensure that our modelling procedures are fully documented, transparent, and reproducible. Retaining this information allows us to plot the statistics and measure improvements to the model with each successive cross-validation run to determine the point at which we have most effectively characterized the currently available data. 

This modelling workflow has also been designed with multiple feed-back loops that allow individual surfaces, or specific areas to be updated within the model when needed.  Updates to the surfaces can be initiated by either internal or external triggers such as; 1) a significant amount of new data becomes available for a particular stratigraphic unit, 2) the results of an external project don’t fit with a current surface, or 3) a unit has not been updated for a long period of time and needs to be reassessed.  This allows us to strategically develop our subsurface models focusing on geologic units or areas of the province that have the greatest priority.

Current Focus and Future Development

The Bedrock Geological Framework modelling team is currently focused on;

  • developing semi-automated model construction workflows to ensure model updates are more efficient and less susceptible to user error,
  • improving our ability to characterize and communicate model uncertainty,
  • integrating updated multi-scalar submodels within the provincial Geological Framework for dissemination,
  • working with stakeholders to identify high priority geological units and/or regional areas where the 3D geostatistical predictions need to be developed or updated, and
  • continued mapping and 3D modelling of the sub-Cretaceous unconformity across Alberta.