In this paper, a summary and critical account of what is known about the geology of coal in Alberta is given. The paper can provide a basis for management decisions regarding the direction of coal geology studies in Alberta. Information is presented on what 15 geological surveys do in coal geology in other provinces in Canada and areas of the United States of America. Knowledge and opinions of 12 coal mining companies and consultant firms working in Alberta are also presented. From these sources of information, a set of recommendations for future work in coal geology by the Alberta Research Council is presented.
These recommendations are in line with the Alberta Coal Research Strategic Plan (ENR, 1983), which wants to enhance the competitiveness of Alberta coals by improving the quality and developing new uses of the coals. They are also in line with the position of the coal industry (Coal Association of Canada, 1985) which will support research on coal that develops increased coal utilization.
The subject of coal geology is divided into seven research fields, I.e. coal quality, stratigraphy, structural geology, sedimentology, coal databases, geophysics and resource calculations. These research fields are ranked according to five criteria, I.e. benefit to regional exploration, benefit to lease site development, benefit to resource planners, high research pay-off potential (short term) and high research pay-off potential (long term). The ranking obtained in this manner was then compared to the work presently done in the various research fields in other institutions or in other departments of the Alberta Research Council.
The following ranking was obtained. Coal quality is the most important field of research, according to all criteria. Structural geology and coal databases rank as second most important. Stratigraphy and sedimentology rank third. Geophysics and resource calculations fell fourth, because these areas are adequately researched elsewhere.