Energy Geoscience

Energy geoscience research at the Geological Survey of Canada involves the characterization of sedimentary basins and the assessment of their hydrocarbon potential.

Sedimentary basins form when the Earth’s crust is deformed by the movement of continental plates. Over time, basins fill with sediments from surrounding land areas, or from plants and animals that lived and grew in the basin. Sedimentary basins can provide the right geological conditions (sediment thickness, heat flow, organic material, faulting) to allow oil and gas to be produced and trapped. Almost all commercial discoveries of oil and natural gas around the world are found in sedimentary basins. There are dozens of sedimentary basins in Canada, and GSC research is currently focused on northern and offshore areas.

Basin characterization uses geological techniques to determine the mode of basin formation, the thickness, timing, and type of sedimentary fill, and how the basin has been deformed by subsequent tectonic events. These factors control how much (if any), what type and where hydrocarbons will be in the basin. GSC techniques include geological mapping and sampling where rocks are exposed on land, and using core samples and logs from industry wells to describe the subsurface sequence of rocks (stratigraphy) and their age (paleontology) and depositional environment (e.g. land, marine, deltaic). Remote geophysical mapping techniques such as seismic, gravity and magnetic rock properties help determine the regional subsurface geology between wells especially in the offshore.

Basin characterization is the critical first-step research needed to properly assess the resource potential of a sedimentary basin. GSC develops and applies resource assessment methodologies to support national energy supply forecasts, to support economic development and to inform land use and infrastructure planning decisions in areas of potential oil and gas development.

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