Coal-bearing strata are extensive throughout most of Alberta between the 49th and 57th parallels. Three major coal-bearing stratigraphic zones exist in the Plains region: the Edmonton Group and equivalents, the Belly River (Judith River) Group and the Mannville Group. The deep coal zones of the Alberta Plains were investigated through the use of borehole well logs. Most coal seams 2 feet or greater in thickness were recorded and mapped to produce data on distribution and reserve estimates.
The total tonnage of deep coal in the Cretaceous system of the Alberta Plains has been calculated to be in excess of one trillion tons. Mannville Group strata contain the largest reserves, with 628,000 million tons or 60 percent of the total; Edmonton Group strata contain 327,450 million tons or 31 percent of the total; and the remainder of the coal is found in the Belly River Group strata with 89,400 million tons or 9 percent of the total.
The greatest concentration of deep coal seams was found in central Alberta between townships 30 and 50. Coal was found at depths ranging from near surface (Edmonton Group) to 6,000 feet (Mannville Group). Belly River coal was found exclusively in the southeast. These deep coal resources offer Alberta a major potential source of fossil fuel for the future.
Yurko, J.R. (1976): Deep Cretaceous coal resources of the Alberta Plains; Alberta Research Council, ARC/AGS Earth Sciences Report 1975-04, 65 p.