Fieldwork (JUNE 15-19, 2019)

Highway 40 on the way to Grande Prairie, AB

July 15: Susan Machan, Andrew Poulin(field technician for Microseismic Industry Consortium), and myself left for Grande Prairie for a decommissioning trip to take down some seismic stations and as a “fun” side trip obtain some soil sample from the Fox Creek area. The soil sample side trip was to obtain samples for German Rodriguez-Pradilla, who was looking to analyze them for a paper he is working on studying the effects of soil amplification and its effects on seismic amplitude. The trip up to Grande Prairie was uneventful withe exception of the odd bathroom break or stop for food. When we reached Grande Prairie I was a little awestruck though, the last time I had been there, when I was still working in industry as a directional driller, the town was a buzz with action. In 2012 the traffic here use to be almost as bad as Calgary, but instead of commuters was usually congested with industry related traffic of all kinds, from rig moving heavy haulers to company trucks of all kinds. We pretty much had choice of where to stay, we spent the night in a small motel towards the end of the strip on the west side of town.

On site WAPA west of GP

June 16: We headed out early for site WAPA, west of Grande Prairie for our first decommissioning site. Decommissioning involved the dismantling of monitoring equipment installed at each site which consisted of a seismonitor, mounted equipment box, as well as monitoring equipment attached to seismonitor.

This first site was a bit of a challenge. At each site the seismonitor was concealed within a steel corrugated culvert buried about 3ft in the ground, so this had to be dug out as well as the seismonoitor. At this particular site as well as being buried, the area was over grown with quack grass to this made digging it out a bit challenging, as well as the ground being made up of heavy wet clay. At the end of removing each seismonitor, the remaining hole had to be filled in and seeded. Once we were done we cleaned up the site and headed north to Peace River for the night and the take down of WAPA site the next day.

Peace River view from the “awesome” BMI hotel

June 17: As in Grande Prairie we woke up early had breakfast, but first had to track down a dump to unload the garbage from the previous days site. this turned out to be quit the adventure as we had to head a short distance north of town which was the opposite way we had to go to get to site MANA. Once we accomplished unloadingwe then back tracked back to town and headed towards Manning, this site was located on a small experimental farm run by U of A.

Unlike WAPA this take down was easy and took little to no time and with in a couple of hours were on our way to White Court to spend the night before going on our soil sample gathering adventure by Fox Creek.

June 18: Woke up, had breakfast and headed for Fox Creek. Once there we headed south down the Big Stone Road and to the Tony Creek road which was to be our first soil gathering site, it was rained out plus we spotted a cougar down the road so decided not to walk it either. The next site seemed accessible,as it was a little ways from the main road so hiked in. With little to no issues we gathered a couple of soil samples and headed back to the truck to leave. Being the most experienced with the area, as I use to work in this area lots when i use to work in the petroleum field, i forgot just how soft the shoulders get when there is a heavy rain which we had the night before.

kinda stuck

When we went to leave we got a little stuck, luckily some field operators stopped and helped get us out. We then headed to the next site for our next sample.

Long walk to our next site

After a long walk at our next site we gathered our next set of samples with no problems. moving forward the rest of the sites seemed inaccessable due to muddy rods so we threw in the towel so to speak and headed to Athabasca for the night before taking down our last site at the University of Athabasca.

University of Athabasca so small and cute

June 19: Woke up and had our usual breakfast before heading out for our last site of this trip.

The last site was located close to the University of Athabasca’s observatory, and was the easiest site to take down. Within a couple of hours we were done and on our way home.

Geophysics lab June 10-14

June 10:Today I began researching in earnest on soil sampling techniques in earnest for our upcoming field work in northern Alberta. Did some background checking on surface soil types in the area, looked at some satellite views of the area, as well as looking up astm models used for sampling.

June 11: Got a proposal from David Eaton for a project to do once back from Northern Alberta. Recently the AEB put a ban on fracking on the Duvernay formation, which is what they call a source formation for oil production, in the Brazeau dam area NW of Red Deer. The proposed project is to see how this ban would financially affect present and future production in this area.

June 12-14: Continued on with researching soil sampling methods and proper ways of extraction using hands augers. Did some back ground research for my upcoming project with geology maps and talked to AEB about information sources for background prior to this ban. Prepared for decommissioning trip.

My first week in the Geochemistry Lab (JUNE 4-7, 2019)

JUNE 4, 2019 I met with Michael Nightingale the geochemistry Chem Lab Manager. After a tour of the labs we discussed steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD). SAGD is an unconventional method used to extract bitumen by injecting a high temperature steam underground via horizontal well to heat the bitumen which allows it to flow up an adjacent well.

An issue that occurs in wells is the deposition of scale. This is a problem for the oil and gas industry because this scaling provides an insulated layer which could cause overheating and burst pipes that are expensive to repair. These scales are composed of micro layers of magnesium silicate and calcium phosphate even though the boiler feed water supplying the steam generation is relatively low in Ca and Mg.

A sample of the magnesium silicate and calcium phosphate rich scale.

An Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES) is used to determine the composition of the boiler feed water.

Solutions with different composition of Calcium(Ca), Magnesium(Mg) and Silica(Si) used for the ICP Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES) for standards.

Today I was able to help Simone who is doing her undergraduate thesis on scale build-up. She is trying to replicate the conditions needed for scale formation in a Once Through Steam Generator (OTGS). Synthetic samples with three different composition of Mg and Ca at different temperatures (50°C and 80°C ). Argon is inert and is used for this experiment to make an Argon plasma. The sample was filtered and 10 micro-liter of nitric acid was added to preserve it.

The Argon gas was turned on and the auto-sampler moved the probe to inject the samples into the ICP-OES. The sample is sprayed into the chamber and the nebulizer makes it into a mist which is carried up into a torch (8000°C) and heavy droplets go down the tube.

An atom changes from the lowest energy level (ground state) to a higher energy level (excited state) by absorption where it takes energy from its surroundings. Emission happens when the electron returns to the ground state by releasing the extra energy it absorbed.

The auto sampler and ICP Expert II program.

The ICP Expert II program will analyze the measured energy released from atomic emission. 5 windows were monitored with different wavelengths. At the end of the day it was determined that the system was static which means that there were no changes. The pH will have to change to change the conditions that will hopefully precipitate.

June 5, 2019 We discussed the IC (ion chromatography) machines that could be used for various of reasons such as finding lead in drinking water etc. Today we used it to analyze water samples from Hudson Hope to see if there are any negative impact on the aquifers above a shale well.

The black ink is made up of different colours. The water moves up the paper because of capillary.

June 5, 2019- Chromatography (colour writing) is an analytical method to separate mixtures of a substance into their components. It is composed of a liquid or solid stationary phase (ex. paper) and a liquid or gas mobile phase (ex. black ink). The mobile phase will go through the stationary phase with the different components. Different components will have different rates it travels at.

39 samples from Hudson Hope was prepared.
39 samples with 9 standards were placed within an auto sampler.

The IC machine we used today uses silicon or plastic beads packed into columns for the stationary phase instead of paper. A mixture of potassium hydroxide and water is the mobile phase and a pump mechanically moves the mobile phase through the stationary phase instead of capillary.

The chloride is more mobile than sulfate and bromide because the peak is shown first.

Nitrate can act as an oxidizer and would be expected to combine with methane in ground water.

5CH4 + 8NO3- + 8H+ -> 5CO2 + 4N2 + 14H2O

Sulfate is reduced when reacted with methane.

CH4 + SO4-2 -> HCO3- + HS- +H2O

We would expect the SO4-2 and NO3- to decrease. The question now is if the methane in the groundwater naturally occurring or is industry affecting it. If there is a lot of NO3- and SO4- then the methane is not in situ and is not naturally occurring.

Today we analyzed the negatively charged species SO4-2, NO3-, and Cl. Yesterday we analyzed the positively charged species because since it is a water sample the negative species and positive species should be equal within a 5% error.

Geophysics lab June 3 – 7

June 3: Began the week with a quick operational meeting with Dr. David Eaton and Celia Kennedy, both with the Microseismic Industry Consortium. Discussed our summer intern schedule and expectations for the summer, this included a brief over view of what procedures to follow as far as employee onboarding and how to get logged into the system. The rest of the day was just a brief over view of the geophysics lab, getting my card coded for the lab door and setting up a user account on the lab computer.

June 4: Met with Kelly MacDougall, and went over some expectations and potential papers for me to review on both soil and rock mechanics in relation to soil sampling techniques and seismic amplification. spent the better part of the day after this finishing up my employee onboarding

June 5: Began in great detail to review assigned papers on soil amplification, and mechanics related to velocity and plasticity in relation to how soil behaves during a quake.

June 6: Held meeting with Andrew Poulin, and discussed our upcoming decommissioning trip to Northern Alberta for both soil sampling and taking down of chosen seismic monitoring sites. At the time we were not sure if this trip could still go through due to forest fire conditions in many of the areas we were travelling to. Finished off the day with research.

June 7: Held a meeting with Dr. Dave Eaton in regards to potential projects with in my understanding that I may be able to do while in geophysics lab. Obtained some online text books so i could get a better understanding of soil mechanics and theory.

REDEVELOP Challenge and field trip (May 27 -31)

From May 27-28 Me and Susan Machan attended the ReDeveLoP Challenge at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Calgary. During the course of two days we listened to various speakers ranging in topics such as Science and Public Perception, Environmental Risk Assessment, and Rebirth of Social License. The challenger teams were split into 4 teams, 2 dealing with the subject of Hydraulic Fracturing and the other 2 dealing with Induced Seismicity. Challengers presented posters on there chosen topic as well as detailed presentations after, as posters and presentations were presented they were judged and questioned by 3 “dragons”, who were chosen leaders from industry of different disciplines. At the conclusion of these 2 days a winning team was chosen.

On may 29 we were all given a geology field trip to Kanaskis.

While touring through the mountains we stopped at various spots through out the day and were given presentations on various geological formations including the Montney formation and there relevance to both the conventional and unconventional energy industry.

On May 30th we were given presentations by David Eaton, Nancy Chen, and Karlis-Muchlenbachs. These presentations discussed Topics such as gas migration and detection in surface water and how this is a natural occurring phenomenon, seismic amplification and occurrances, and geothermal energy advances.

In the early afternoon we were treated to a tour of the Geochem labs on the 5th floor of the Earth Sciences building on U of C campus. The tour included a brief presentation of what the labs do which included gas analysis, chromatography, and other related experiments and research.

On May 31 the majority of participants left in early morning for a trip up to Fox Creek, AB.

The purpose of this trip was a field trip and tour of a live fracking site compliments of Chevron Canada, to help bring some of the things we learned about through out the conference into perspective. It was really informative and over whelming seeing this equipment in action. While there we learned of how some of the equipment worked and operated and the over all sophistication and planning that is involved to make a operation like this successful.

We stayed the night in Fox Creek, as we were suppose to head the same day to Sucker Creek First Nation, but had to canel due to the dangers posed by forest fires in the area. The next day we headed back to Calgary which brought to an end a fun and informative week learning about the unconventional energy industry.

Week 1. Indigenous Relations Training (May 24)

Joseph and I started off Week 1 with this 4-day workshop that I really enjoyed and highly recommend to everyone, but especially to individuals working in an industry (like the energy sector), where communication with Indigenous communities is part of your job. I learned things about Indigenous people in Canada that I didn’t know, like we are one of the fastest-growing populations in Canada. You only have to turn on the radio to recognize that a basic knowledge of Indigenous people will increase your understanding of hot socio-economic and environmental issues getting media attention today. I expect many employers will value graduates having this workshop listed on their CV. Here’s a short summary of the excellent line-up of speakers and my experience in the workshop.

Day 1: It was pouring rain, so unfortunately, we were unable to put up the tee pee, so the day was spent in the Writing Symbols Lodge, where we all sat down on the floor in a (talking) circle. On this day, Reg Crowshoe, former Chief of the Piikani Nation, spoke on Indigenous Ways of Knowing. Like many teachings in Indigenous culture, Reg delivered his lesson in stories. Stories about his childhood as a ‘little bird’ in the Chickadee Society to demonstrate the differences in information transfer between an Indigenous oral society and that of the “newcomers”. Later that day, we received an Historical Overview of Indigenous People in Canada, where Reg bravely shared his experience as a young boy in the residential school school system. This gentle giant delivered such honest and thought-provoking stories, I wondered what the rest of the week would be like.

Day 2: We started the morning with the module ‘Current Indigenous Issues in Canada’ given by David Lertzman and in the afternoon we discussed the module ‘Current Trends in Education & Employment’ with Keeta Gladue. I regret not taking Native Studies while I was in high school because my history class only briefly discussed native history and we only talked about the treaties but not about White Paper that almost passed that would make everyone Canadians and the Indigenous people would lose their identities. Another issue Indigenous people had to deal with back then was losing their status because of wanting a higher education or marrying a Caucasian man. Fortunately that law did not stay because I would not be considered indigenous because of my mother marrying my father as well as having an education passed grade 8. It wasn’t until 2015 that Canada finally implemented the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People but there are still so many communities with issues especially up north.

Day 3: Today we began with the module ‘Socio-cultural Issues in the Northern & Circumpolar Region’ given by Tessa Bailey. In the afternoon we discussed the module ‘Economic Development and Environmental Issues in the Northern & Circumpolar Region.’ The documentary ‘Arctic Defenders’ was eye opening for me because I never knew the Inuit history despite Yellowknife having a large population there. All I knew was the inukshuks because they were fun to make and the dog sleds which is also an important part of the Tlicho culture. I did not realize that they were placed up there as human flagpoles to establish Canada’s sovereignty in the North and the hardships they had to endure like the price of feeding your family.

Day 4: The last day of the training we went over the module ‘Resource Development in Indigenous Communities’ by Art Cunningham and Ann Harding. The last module we talked about the module ‘Building Strong Community Relations’ by David Lertzman.

From Driller to Student and more..

Hello there! My name is Joe Leadley, and I am a proud self identified Metis as well as a husband and father, with Indigenous ties originating from south Saskatchewan. Born and raised in Taber, AB I was exposed to the petroleum industry from a early age as my own dad was a career drilling rig worker, Shortly after quiting high school I also entered into the petroleum industry, as at the time in a small town it was a common thing to do. I worked my way up from floor hand to driller and eventually consultant directional driller. While working in the petroleum industry I did eventually obtain my high school diploma. After the industry took a deep down turn in 2013-2014 I decided it was time for a change in both my career and lifestyle for both me and my family. In 2017 I began attending Mount Royal University to pick up some missing upgrading i needed so that i could enter into the Bachelor of science program, this fall I will be entering into my second year in the Environmental science program at MRU. From a environmental point of view I look very forward and proud at the same time to be part of the CREATE ReDeveLoP internship, as way to learn about the benefits of the unconventional energy industry and prospects of Geothermal energy using the same technology as a renewable energy source in the future.


CREATE ReDeveLoP is a program to help graduate (MSc and PhD) students in Geoscience and Engineering gain professional skills training and experience. An undergraduate internship program was launched in May 2019 within ReDeveLoP to help Indigenous BSc students explore graduate study options in these disciplines and the funding available.

Susan, a 2019 BSc graduate of Geology at the University of Calgary, and Joseph, a 2nd-year BSc student of Environmental Science at Mount Royal University, are the first undergraduate interns of the program.

This blog is a window into that experience, to be shared via the Indian Resource Council, the Writing Symbols Lodge, and the Iniskim Centre. Follow Susan and Joe through their rotations of field work, geochemistry, geophysics, petroleum engineering, and even Indigenous Relations Training. Feel free to share this link with your friends in university or high school who might have questions about career paths.

Introducing Susan Machan … I am an Indigenous student from the Tlicho band in the NWT. I just graduated with my BSc from the University of Calgary. I’m the first person in my family to complete a university degree. While in undergrad, I studied hard rock geology, with a focus on ore deposits. This summer will be a good opportunity to learn more about the soft rock geology in the oil and gas industry and to make some decisions about my career path.

Introducing Joe Leadley … I am a Metis student, a husband and a father, with Indigenous ties originating from south Saskatchewan. Born in Taber, AB, I grew up around the petroleum industry. I left high school to work as a driller, and completed my education part-time at night. After the 2013 flood and the economic downturn, particularly in the oil and gas industry, I returned to school. It was a big decision not just for me, but for my family as well. I started by upgrading some high school core courses in 2017 at Mount Royal University to gain eligibility into a BSc degree program. I chose Environmental Science because, with a decade of industry experience, I’d now like to work in remediation. I completed 1st year as a part-time student while I was still employed. I’m looking forward to starting 2nd year as a full-time student undergraduate student for the first time in my life. I’ve posted a couple of photos below; one of the last rig I worked on and one of me at school. This summer, I’m proud to be part of the CREATE ReDeveLoP internship program at the UoC. I’m here because this program is dedicated to collaboration with other universities, industries, government and Indigenous communities, and I think that’s important to our future.