Geological mapping is a traditional activity of geological surveys, and maps have accompanied Alberta Geological Survey reports from the organization’s beginnings. The first Geological Map of Alberta was published in 1926 by John Allan, and it has been revised several times over the years, with Map 600 being the latest iteration.
Figure: John Allan’s 1926 map of the geology of Alberta
Traditional geological mapping began with fieldwork to identify and sketch geological features found on the landscape. Field sketches were revised to produce the author’s final drawings, which were compiled by cartographic technicians onto clear Mylar with carefully aligned overlays to produce a photographic negative that would be used to print the final map.
While fieldwork is still an important part of today’s geological mapping, its output is often captured as digital data rather than sketches in a field logbook, and the creation of a modern geological map is more likely to begin with interpretation of geophysical well logs or analysis of a digital elevation model created from remote sensing imagery. Also, the final product is now created in a geographic information system (GIS) and is published with an accompanying set of digital data for map users to load into their GIS. And these two-dimensional digital map products don’t stop there, but become inputs into three-dimensional geological models.
In addition to a bedrock geology map of the province, the core mapping products created by AGS include provincial scale surficial geology, bedrock topography, sediment thickness, and glacial landform maps.
Recent mapping activities at AGS include
- surficial mapping program,
- mapping the sub-Cretaceous unconformity model, and
- the Devonian bedrock mapping in the area of the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan.