The plains region of Alberta is underlain by Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary strata composed mainly of silty shale and very fine grained sandstone, the shale being by far the most predominant rock type. These strata are nearly everywhere covered by a mantle of glacial drift which is commonly 30 to 100 feet thick. The drift is composed mostly of material that has been locally derived and thus it is also fine grained.
Such an environment is not favorable for the development of groundwater supplies. In many districts of Alberta a large proportion of the rural residents experience difficulty in obtaining a water supply, and in a few districts good wells are unknown. In several cases where studies have been made of the groundwater geology of such areas it has been found that strata of quicksand are encountered in shallow borings. A quicksand stratum carries water if it is below the water table but, in drilling, it is almost invariably cased-off and ignored as a source of water on the grounds that it is dry (unsaturated) or that the sand is too fine to control in a well.
Experience has shown that if a quicksand stratum is as much as five feet thick it can likely be developed as a suitable aquifer for small supplies of water and may provide a groundwater supply where wells have not been successful previously.
In December of 1959 the Research Council of Alberta undertook the drilling and development of wells in a quicksand aquifer near Edmonton, Alberta, on an experimental basis. Three wells were completed and tested by pumping. Each well was completed in a different manner in order to determine the most reliable method of completion for this type of aquifer. One of the wells was wholly successful and has proven to be a suitable source of water for a dairy farm, where previously the water supply had been inadequate. The other two wells were less successful but probably adequate. The purpose of this paper is to report the results of this study in order that the possibility of obtaining a water supply from quicksand aquifers may be considered in areas where the water supply is a problem.
Farvolden, R.N. (1961): A farm water supply from quicksand; Research Council of Alberta, RCA/AGS Earth Sciences Report 1961-03, 14 p.