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Subsurface Geological Laboratory

The Saskatchewan Subsurface Geological Laboratory in Regina is a centralized provincial repository of drill hole cores and cuttings from wells drilled for the exploration and development of petroleum and natural gas, industrial minerals, and sedimentary uranium deposits. A precursor facility was established in the 1940s under the sponsorship of the University of Saskatchewan in order to preserve subsurface geological data for research by the geoscientific community. Storage was expensive and collection depended on the vagaries of an industry new to the province. Petroleum exploration and development in the province expanded rapidly in the 1950s and there was widespread recognition that subsurface data were expensive and unique to a particular well location. These factors rationalized the requirement for centralized data storage in Regina under the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act and Regulations 1952.

The present laboratory building was constructed in 1958 under the administration of the Saskatchewan Department of Mineral Resources (now Saskatchewan Industry and Resources) as a mechanized warehouse and library that is open, with certain restrictions, to the public and department staff. It had an area of 5,262 m2 and was designed to hold 150,000 boxes (approximately 230,000 linear metres) of core, stacked in steel racks to a height of 3.5 m, as well as two million vials of drill cuttings. Subsequently the building was expanded and by 2004 had an area of 7,312 m2 and contained 350,000 boxes of core taken from 20,000 wells, as well as 3.3 million vials of drill cuttings. Geophysical well geoscientists and engineers use these materials in order to evaluate projects for exploration of undeveloped land and expansion of known pools and deposits, to reduce operational risks, and - more generally - to pursue research into the origin and geological environments of petroleum and mineral resources in the province.

Laurence W. Vigrass

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University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
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