Last modified: September 11, 2012

CSPG logoMessage from the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists

Geological Atlas of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin

The first "Atlas" of Western Canada, the Geological History of Western Canada, edited by R.G. McCrossan and R.P. Glaister, was conceived in 1960 and published in 1964, with later editions following in 1966 and 1970. It was a hallmark publication, which brought the CSPG worldwide recognition.

The second Atlas project was initiated in 1985, when President G.D. Williams and the Executive Committee endorsed the monumental project proposed by Grant Mossop, then with the Alberta Geological Survey, our co-publisher. With the help of subsequent CSPG executive committees and the membership at large, a partnership developed between the same players that had produced the first Atlas - industry, universities, and government.

Both individuals and companies recognized the importance of producing this complex, though costly, regional reference work. While individual CSPG members have done the massive amount of technical work (with costs often underwritten by their companies or institutions), the petroleum industry at large has provided the funds for printing this new Atlas. The early major commitment made by a number of the benefactors, shown on the previous page, was based on their faith in the CSPG's ability to ensure completion of the project and was critical to the success of the whole endeavour. Under the leadership of Morley Brown, the CSPG Atlas Finance Committee solicited donations from companies both large and small, and obtained the money required to underwrite the printing costs of the final compilation. The generous support of the provincial government in providing map production, drafting services and coordination bridged the gap from author to printer. To all these contributors, the CSPG is immensely grateful.

The original Atlas, now a collector's item, has been and still is used more than any other CSPG publication. It provided a matched set of regional maps which blocked out patterns on a basin-wide scale, setting up a framework for future plays: even as the first Atlas was being printed, new discoveries such as Rainbow fitted into the reef complex indicated by the basin facies pattern. These main patterns are still evident, but exploration discoveries and infill drilling have changed much of the local detail (and doubled the size!) of the new Atlas.

Science is a discipline of continuous change, and a multidisciplinary approach has been responsible for most of the major advances. New ideas have emerged which modified geological thinking and revolutionized basin analysis: interpretations of stratigraphy, structure, geochemistry and geophysics have been reconsidered in the light of sea-level changes, plate tectonics and thermal/organic maturity. Changes in geological theories were further enhanced by accompanying advances in geophysical acquisition and processing technology - from digital to 3-D seismic. New workstations enabled both geologists and geophysicists to examine and integrate large amounts of data in ways that were once impossible, and seismic stratigraphy has blurred the boundaries between geology and geophysics.

As the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin continues to mature, and as pool sizes inevitably decrease, more and more careful, well-integrated geological effort will be required to discover new reserves and to augment the recovery of hydrocarbons from old deposits already being depleted. As the Queen said to Alice in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass,

"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

The Atlas project proves that we are all running hard, and, with publication of this Atlas, we will have arrived somewhere else.

Alice V. Payne, P.Geol.
1992 President
Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists