A database of coal-related information has been developed at the Alberta Geological Survey. The coal database's prime function is to support the information requirements of the Alberta Geological Survey's Coal Geology Group as well as those of industry and government. It will also provide a centralized collection of coal data in a consistent format, regardless of the source of data, while simultaneously archiving costly-to-obtain data. It should be stressed that the data base itself, and not this report, is the primary product of this project. This report reflects the state of the data base project at the end of December 1988; improvements and modifications to the data base will continue.
The following broad data categories can be stored within the Coal Data Base: location information, geological picks, lithological descriptions, sample types, coal quality information, structural geology attributes, and sample storage information. We plan to enhance our coal geology glossary (one of the project's products) and make it widely available as part of an effort to standardize and improve the level of technical dialogue in Alberta. Currently, the Coal Data Base contains data from the Alberta Geological Survey (AGS) and data from the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) coal hole file. Data from the AGS consists of geology picks from three coal-bearing units of the Alberta plains to a maximum depth of 400 m. These units are the Ardley coal zone, the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, and the Belly River Group comprising a total of 5125 holes within 10 000 formation picks and 24 976 coal seam picks. Coal quality data is available for 205 holes. The majority of the coal-related information in the data base is from the ERCB's coal hole file. The ERCB's data spans the foothills/mountains and plains coals. Their coal file held data, as of March 1988, on 49 216 holes, with 2938 having coal quality (proximate or ultimate analyses) information
The coal database is a relational data base, implemented in INGRES data base software on a VAX computer. It is intended that the data be a resource for all those involved in the coal sector. One attraction of the relational data model is that it gives users the freedom to query the data base with their own unique questions rather than being locked into fixed format queries. For example, one person may request data related by company, another can request data related by date of sampling and log types. A common request will be, 'tell me all you can about coal in this area'. The Coal Data Base runs in both mainframe and microcomputers which allows portions of the data base to be transferred digitally into a user's office microcomputer for further querying or analysis.
The Coal Data Base can serve as an exploration, research, and information tool for the 1990s. The result of queries can be sent from office to office on the same day it is retrieved. The data base speeds gathering data for a project's initiation and forms a foundation to the true spatial data and map analysis systems (i.e., geographic information systems) which will be a dominant geoscience tool in the 1990s.