The Department hosts several major research groups: The CREWES Project and the Applied Stratigraphy Research Group. Each of these groups has annual meetings that involve scientists from outside the university. Students have opportunities to participate in the meetings and to interact with the wider scientific, industrial and professional community. Recently the Department has become the home of the Petroleum Reservoir Group. Most researchers in the Department have associated activities within the Institutes for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE). Furthermore, individual research initiatives occur in many areas of the geosciences, including petrology, tectonics, glaciology, Quaternary and surficial geology, hydrogeology, planetary geology, seismology and solid earth geophysics. There is much interdisciplinary effort in geochemistry, including aqueous, petroleum and isotopic studies.
The CREWES Project (Consortium for Research in Elastic Wave Exploration Seismology), working closely with industry partners, conducts advanced research in resource exploration and development. It focuses on improved acquisition, processing and interpretation of multicomponent seismic data. The principal goal is improved 3-D geological images of the subsurface. The Project operates a state of the art computing facility for both theoretical development and application of data processing techniques, using both field and laboratory data.
The industry supported Applied Stratigraphy Research Group uses a multidisciplinary approach, including sedimentology, ichnology, sequence stratigraphy, conodont biostratigraphy, and geochemistry to resolve stratigraphic problems within the Carboniferous to Triassic succession of western Canada.
The Applied Geochemistry group (AGg) employs a wide variety of physical, chemical, isotopic, and modeling techniques to study aspects of the water cycle and to trace the fate of anthropogenic carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur in surface and subsurface environments. The goal is to enhance sustainable practices in energy supply, forestry, and agriculture, while minimizing the impact on terrestrial and aquatic environments.
The Department has a strong international reputation in petrology and tectonics. Work in this area involves the integration of field-based structural, petrologic, mineralogic, geochemical and geophysical studies of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rock masses found in modern and ancient plate margins, most notably mountain belts. A unifying regional context for the Petrology and Tectonics group is the Canadian Cordilleran mountain belt, located on Calgary's doorstep, which is used as a natural laboratory for development and testing of new concepts and techniques.
Major laboratories in the Department that support research in Petrology and Tectonics include the Lithoprobe Seismic Processing Facility (LSPF, mentioned above) and the University of Calgary Laboratory for Electron Microbeam Analysis (UCLEMA).
CHORUS (Consortium for Heavy Oil Research by University Scientists) is a collaborative research project involving geoscience and reservoir engineering which attempts to optimize enhanced recovery in heavy oil fields. CHORUS is known for seismic monitoring and reservoir characterization of cold production fields.
PHOTON (Processes of Heavy Oil and Tar sand Origin, and Novel strategies for exploitation of these resources) is a new initiative within the Department of Geology and Geophysics, that will involve geochemists, geologists, hydrogeologists, geophysicists, engineers and microbiologists. Biodegraded oils dominate the world petroleum inventory, with the largest oil reserves being found, not in the Middle East, but as heavy oils and tar sands and natural gas, and environmental impact and mediation required in production of this important resource sands on the flanks of foreland basins in the Americas with Canada having a very large share of this vast resource. The PHOTON group will investigate the chemical, physical and biological processes by which oils are biodegraded to produce heavy oils, tar sands and natural gas, and environmental impact and mediation required in production of this important resource.