Building an Alberta Plains Structural Database

Building an Alberta Plains Structural Database

Geological Structure Database and Modelling


The Alberta Geological Survey (AGS) is building a database of compiled and newly identified structural features in the subsurface of the Alberta Plains. The envisioned repository will include validated (credible) and readily available structures as two- and three-dimensional entities for immediate use and application by Alberta Energy Regulatory (AER) staff, other government stakeholders, the geological community, and the public at large.


Exploration and production of a wide range of energy and non-energy mineral deposits is critically dependent on knowledge of the location and age of geological structures, primarily faults, which may have acted as traps for hydrocarbon migration, pathways for mineralizing fluids, and kimberlite emplacement.

A central repository is needed to collect, evaluate, store, and share structural features (faults, shear zones, arches, and impact craters). This project will develop and test such a repository and the workflow to collect, evaluate, store, easily share, and distribute structural data for AER use.

The main driver for this project is the three-dimensional geological modelling for the Geological Framework Project and for various more specific or local AER/AGS projects. The need for this data within the AER is increasing as more groups see how it can be used in assessing, evaluating, and predicting oil and gas development in the province. The AGS receives requests for this data from different groups and branches within the AER as well as from external stakeholders. At present, the structural data have not been validated and are not stored in a way that will allow it to be easily retrieved and shared.


The project will collect and bring together information from a variety of sources: journal articles, graduate theses, mineral assessment reports, as well as detailed subsurface stratigraphic work within the AER and AGS. It will build on the “GIS compilation of structural elements in northern Alberta”, published by the AGS, that includes structural lineaments identified or inferred from different methods (seismic and log interpretation, aerial photograms, satellite imagery, etc.) and interpreted by various authors as faults.

Dinu Structure Database Figure 1

Figure 1: Building a structural database for the province of Alberta.

Attribute information for each structural feature, including a unique identifier, reference, author’s criteria (primary and secondary) for inferring a fault’s existence, formations affected, fault type, dip direction of fault plane (where applicable/known), and the AGS’s comments and ranking will be compiled into a database. The database and the reference list will be joined to the spatial elements in shapefiles (lines, points, and polygons) to enable queries in ArcGIS.