The Geological Survey of Canada maintains a proud and important legacy in geological exploration and research in Western Canada and has been intimately involved with the evolution of the petroleum and coal industries in the area. More than 100 years ago, well-known Survey pioneers including Dawson, McConnell, Tyrrell, Dowling and others, were among the first to prepare maps and reports in what was the huge uncharted territory along the eastern margin of the Cordilleran Orogen. They were followed by generations of Survey geologists who worked alongside confrères in the western provincial surveys, in industry and universities to build on the earlier maps and reports and to refine and improve the general understanding of the evolution of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. The close collaboration amongst these four constituencies has undoubtedly contributed to Canada being in a prominent position in the world geoscience community. It clearly has contributed to the production of this remarkable Atlas, which will serve as a standard reference for generations to come - planners, explorationists, developers and environmentalists alike.
From the time that Joseph Tyrrell discovered coal and dinosaurs in the Red Deer Valley in 1884, through the discovery of petroleum in the southern Rocky Mountain Foothills in 1914 and the birth of the "modern"petroleum industry at Leduc in 1947, the GSC has been actively involved in scientific studies of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. By 1923, when gas and oil were discovered at Wainwright, the Survey was custodian for 60 000 chip samples in its Borings Division, which was housed in the office of the Dominion Lands Branch in Calgary. That custodial responsibility for Alberta was ultimately assumed by the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board. Thus, from the early 1920s to the present time, there has been a closely-linked relationship between federal and provincial responsibilities in the basin.
The Geological Survey of Canada is one of the principal scientific sectors of Natural Resources Canada. It is charged with two principal responsibilities in fulfilling its mandate: to maintain an inventory of the mineral, oil, gas, and coals resources in the country, and to prepare regional maps and reports to facilitate the exploration for, and exploitation of, those resources. The participation of some 25 GSC authors in the Atlas project, mainly from the Institute of Sedimentary and Petroleum Geology, is a reflection of the importance placed on the project by scientists and managers in the Geological Survey of Canada.
A well known cliché "the easy oil has been found" is in some ways appropriate for the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. As the fabric of the petroleum industry changes and more and more small- and intermediate-sized companies become involved in exploration in the basin, new ideas on how to locate the elusive commodities, oil and gas, will become increasingly vital. This Atlas is a current compendium of knowledge on the basin and its commodities and it is fertile ground from which new ideas for research and exploration will sprout.
The Geological Survey of Canada is proud to have participated in the completion of the Geological Atlas of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin and congratulates all participants for production of a fine collaborative document that will certainly survive the test of time in the service of Canada.
Natural Resources Canada