2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:10 AM


CLISSOLD, Roger, Hydrogeological Consultants Ltd, 17740 - 118 Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB T5S 2W3, Canada, rjc@hcl.ca

(and the foundation of regional groundwater mapping)

József Tóth's theory of regional groundwater flow began at the Research Council of Alberta in the early 1960s. The concept that all groundwater discharge didn't end up in the stream was revolutionary in those days. Hubbert's model of groundwater flow was the standard. Once the math was done, it was time to collect the supporting evidence. Joe searched the fields near Trochu, Alberta (only occasionally distracted by the duck population). Once the ground work was complete, there was the “famous” 1964 field trip where the soaphole was introduced to the world as a bona fide groundwater-discharge feature. Joe continued to collect evidence of groundwater recharge and discharge as he travelled around the world.

Back in Alberta, I became one of the collectors of groundwater features, with a thesis title of “Mapping of Naturally Occurring Groundwater Features in Two Areas Near Red Deer, Alberta”. As part of my field work, I discovered an ice block that was disgorged by a soaphole in June 1966; this happenstance alone was almost enough to assure me of an M.Sc. degree. While working on my master's degree, I worked on an electric analog model to simulate regional groundwater flow. It was a fun time but the results were quickly overshadowed by the emergence of the computer into everyday university research life. Now the theory was accepted, the evidence was in place and it was time to take things to the next level; Allan Freeze did that with his Ph.D. on regional groundwater flow.

Before venturing off to find hydrocarbons, Joe started the regional mapping of groundwater in Alberta. Again the approach took technology of the time to a new level. The mapping involved 13 hydrogeologists and took more than 13 years to complete, with the last map being published in 1983. In the end, a project emerged that continues to be the standard in Alberta to this day.

From my perspective, Joe gave us the tools to do the work of evaluating the groundwater over large areas with limited subsurface data, with there being only the occasional offerings to the soaphole gods.