CSEG History: 1970 – 1979

In the 1970s Canada’s oil industry went through dramatic changes. For the first time, government was playing a major role. The rules of the game changed as both the federal and provincial governments became involved. And it was in the face of these changes that the Society took on a new role, that of industry representatives to the government.

The political involvement was a change for both the CSEG and SEG. Norm Christie said, "At the time it was organised they were all most adamant in stating that would never get involved politically, but that has changed. With restrictions on where they can work and some of the safety regulations they’ve found that they’ve been obliged to make representations to governments at all levels."

In 1970, after four scholarships were awarded, the Scholarship Fund was dry. The executive realised that if the highly successful program were to continue, changes would have to be made. During the year a number of fund raising projects were suggested, however, it was not until the following year, with the introduction of corporate memberships, that a solution was found.

The year 1970 was also when membership first topped 1,000. Demand on the secretary’s time was so great that the Society hired a permanent part time undersecretary. During the year the CSEG sponsored a forestry seminar at the University of Calgary. The Society also began to organise a University Liaison Committee, which was not fully active until 1973. One of the more successful programs was the Petroleum Exploration Presentation to University Professors (PEP-UP) program, established to familiarise the instructors with petroleum exploration methods and training needs.

The following year, annual membership dues rose to $7 and the constitution was redrafted. Two scholarships were redrafted. Two scholarships were awarded and it was decided to raise money for scholarships through the sale of corporate memberships. The first corporate memberships were issued in 1972.

That same year the Publication Committee was re-established. Its task was to handle all publications and the public relations work associated with them. In 1972 the Society also learned that the Geophysical Society of Edmonton would become inactive, as companies began to centralize operations in Calgary. The Edmonton executive voted to transfer its $440 balance to the CSEG. And, during the year, three new committees were struck. The Professional Affairs Committee was established to deal in public affairs with the government and in liaison with other associations. The Journal Editorial Committee worked on obtaining and reviewing articles for publication in the Journal. And the Convention Committee was formed to prepare for the Society’s first annual convention.

Also, in 1972, the Canadian Geoscience Council (CGC) was born. The council, composed of delegates from Canadian earth science societies, "enabled Canadian geoscientists to speak with a unified voice." The CSEG, as one of the founding members, has two voting delegates on the board. Council activities over the years have included research, education and representation to the federal government. The organisation has also been involved in offering EDGEO workshops for Canadian high school teachers. Reports have dealt with the significance of deep sea drilling and the nuclear waste disposal problem. Financing has come from a variety of sources, including the Geological Foundation, the Geological Survey of Canada and member societies. The council published a status report in 1976 on geoscience in Canada. The 75-page report includes a breakdown of the status of various subdisciplines and recommendations.

The Society held its first convention April 1973. The theme of the convention was "Canada’s North – An Information Update." Ernie Pallister, general chairman for the function, emphasized the importance of the conference for the Canadian Society. "I felt that it was time that we did our own thing in Canada,"" Pallister said in an interview. "We brought together a lot of people who would never have gone to the national convention of the parent organisation." Speakers at the three-day conference included geophysicists from petroleum and mining industries, government representatives and university professors. Papers included "A Technological Foundation for Future Industrial Development" by Ministry of Industry, Trade and Commerce, Alastair Gillespie and "Polar Marine Operations; Past and Future" by R.K. McConnell and Mr. J.G. Tanner. Proceedings of the national convention were published. Response to the event was such that the Society decided to hold a convention annually.

However, according to ’73 President W.M. (Wes) Rabey, the year was memorable for another reason. "Nineteen hundred and seventy three will probably be remembered as the year of government intervention." During the year the federal government imposed price controls on crude oil. Rabey was not pleased with the development. "Since that time each day seems to bring more surprises from both the provincial and federal governments to the point that each newscast seems to bring forth some new government policy."

According to Norm Christie, the Society has not had an individual lobbying exclusively for them, "Normally, if they have a representation to make either to the province or federal government, they will appoint a committee and those people make the representation on behalf of the society and industry."

Three new committees were formed in 1973: government relations, statistics, and future directions.
The Government Relations Committee prepared a brief for the Alberta government suggesting that a geophysical incentives program be adopted in the province, similar to the drilling incentives. The Future Directions Committee polled members, asking what the Society should accomplish in the coming years. A majority of members supported the Society’s decision to take on the government. The revamped Statistics Committee was set up to assist the Society by gathering information to be used in reports made to governments, industry and the public.

Education was emphasized; members suggested that a wider variety of topics be discussed at the technical meetings. The Continuing Education Committee produced a ‘Gravity Interpretation" workshop.

And in 1973 the new scholarship program was established. The CSEG decided to award four scholarships of $350 each to qualified students majoring in fields closely associated with geophysics. The Awards were to be presented annually to students at the Universities of Calgary, Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. In 1974 the program expanded to include two scholarships of $250 each to be awarded annually at the Southern and Northern Alberta Institutes of technology. The University Liaison Committee took over the duties of the scholarship committee as well as acting as a communication link between the CSEG and the universities.

Not all the Society’s time was dedicated to serious pursuits. Social activities continued to attract large crowds. A new recreational activity, the Doodlespiel, was added to the Society’s agenda.

In 1974 the CSEG continued to stress the importance of dealing with the government. President John Harding emphasized the Society’s stance. "We enlarged on the position taken in 1973 – that is that, as a Society primarily concerned with the dissemination of technical information we could no longer, in the face of the political situation, refrain from making our concerns for the future of the industry known to governments and the public. The CSEG has taken an active role to try to inform governments and the public. We have made submissions, written letters, made public utterances, been in consultation with government and civic officials, to bring before them firstly, evidence derived from surveys from our industry, of the impact of our government’s fiscal policies. Secondly, we have expressed apprehension for the continued well being of Canadians as a whole, in the event that the ranks of our industry become more seriously depleted than they are today."

At the same time, the Society continued with other annual projects. The second annual convention, "Geophysics Canada – An Information Update," was held for three days in April at the Calgary Inn. Approximately 750 delegates gathered to listen to the 24 papers presented. Topics ranged from technical to socio-economic. Exhibits, cocktail parties and a dinner were a part of the get together. During the year, the format of the newsletter was altered somewhat, as editorial comment was introduced and the letter, which had been produced sporadically, began to appear monthly.

In 1975, when the Society reached its 26th year, members decided that it was time to look back. Members Norm Christie and Easton Wren met over lunch to discuss the possibility of producing a history of geophysical exploration in Canada. The executive decided to go ahead with the project and Wren began to gather information. However, it was not until 1985, with the publication of this book, that the CSEG finally set it down on paper. During 1975, a Historical/Archive Committee and a Memorabilia Committee were created to collect and preserve geophysical artifacts.

The 1975 convention, "Advances in Exploration Technology," was jointly sponsored by the CSEG and CSPG. The convention, which was held at the Calgary Convention Centre, featured speakers, exhibits and entertainment. The CSEG continued to take on new projects in ’75 with the formation of the Metrication Committee. The new committee was created to monitor metrication activity in the Canadian geophysical industry. A past president’s dinner was held for the first time in 1975. The event proved so popular it became an annual event.

During the year, the Society’s system of awarding scholarships was altered. Under the new system, patterned after the SEG foundation, applications were accepted from students majoring in geophysics or a closely related field at any Canadian university. The CSEG Scholarship Trust Fund was registered as a Canadian Charitable Organisation. Six scholarships were awarded.

"The year 1976 saw a marked improvement in geophysical activity and exploration which had been depressed because of strict government controls or regulations which make it uneconomic to search for hydrocarbons," Wes Rabey, Government Relations Committee chairman, said. The committee responded to the government’s policy statement on the Proposed Petroleum and Natural Gas Act and Gas Land Regulations. A brief was submitted on the Alberta Geophysical Incentive program. During the year the Committee gathered new information on data trading statistics.

Meanwhile the Future Directions Committee released a list of recommendations.

The CSEG should:

  1. Strive to further the science of Exploration Geophysics.
  2. Promote free exchange of technical information related to Exploration Geophysics.
  3. Act as an agency to collect and distribute factual information related to Exploration Geophysics to members, employers, governments, universities, news media and the public.
  4. Work to improve communication on a continuing basis within the Society and outside the Society.
  5. Play an active role in encouraging education and research in geophysics.
  6. Encourage self-supporting social activities.
  7. Immediately the Society began to work toward the goals. Two new annual social events were organised – the tennis tournament and the Mulligan Golf League. A total of 674 people registered at the CSEG’s fourth annual convention. A variety of continuing education courses were scheduled. In an attempt to improve efficiency, the CSEG began pre-selling tickets to the noon luncheon meetings. A year-end balance of $56,671 was recorded.

And, in 1976, the CSEG newsletter was given a facelift. Renamed the CSEG Recorder, the new product included photographs, a list of committee chairmen and a schedule of events. The Executive Committee was encouraged to submit editorials. Also during the year, the Society made a presentation to the University of Calgary, suggesting the development of a geophysics program at the institute. In ’76 the Journal editor joined the Executive Committee.

While membership dues climbed to $12 in 1977, the Society continued to devote much time and energy to dealing with federal and provincial governments. According to CGC President P.J. Savage, the council worked with the government during the year. "Armed with our 1976 Report on the Status of the Geosciences in Canada, meetings were held with the National Research Council, the Ministry of State for Science and technology, the Departments of Trade and Commerce, Fisheries and Environment and the Indian and Northern Affairs." The CSEG’s metrication, statistics and university liaison committees remained active. The Continuing Education Committee organised six courses, including "Basic Log Interpretation", "Metrication", and "Digital Signal Processing."

Under the second Canadian President, the 47th annual SEG conference was held in Calgary in September 1977, in place of the annual CSEG conference. More than 5000 people attended, making it the largest convention ever to be booked into the Calgary Convention Centre. Exhibitors used two floors of space in the Glenbow Museum, which had been built but not yet filled, and still space was inadequate. The CSEG learned that its American counterpart would not likely hold another conference in Calgary, as the available space was inadequate. By 1985 the SEG had grown so large that it could only hold its annual conference in a handful of American cities where facilities were adequate.

In 1977 eligibility for the Best Paper Award was changed, allowing more speakers to qualify. All CSEG members residing in Canada who presented papers either at a CSEG luncheon or convention or at the SEG convention became eligible. The Society continued to encourage student participation in 1978 when it began accepting student members. Overall membership climbed 18 per cent during the year to a new high of 1,597. And in ‘78, the Journal adopted a new look and became refereed. A board of associate editors composed of eminent geophysicists across Canada was organised to review and screen submissions. The following year the executive decided to appoint each editor for a two-year period, after which the assistant editor took over the position.

The fifth annual CSEG national convention at the Calgary Inn in May attracted more than 800 people. A total of 24 papers were presented and commercial booths were set up. The theme of the ’78 convention was "Energy – A Geophysical Challenge." During the year the Canadian Geoscience Council remained active, the Government Affairs Committee conferred with the Alberta Department of Energy and Natural Resources and the Statistics Committee researched industry expenditures. Nine scholarships were awarded.

In 1978 the Society negotiated a contract to have APEGGA’s Calgary office provide clerical and secretarial services for the CSEG. The CSEG’s Government Affairs Committee also had a busy ’78. Committee members presented a brief to the Alberta Department of Energy and Natural Resources regarding the extension of the Geophysical Incentives Program beyond 1980. The executive committee spoke to the Alberta government about the seasonal fluctuations in crew activity, suggesting ways to encourage summer geophysical activity.

The following year the CSEG/CSPG joint convention, "Update ‘79," attracted more than 2,360 people. In addition to speakers, the conference featured workshop sessions, films and a field trip. And in 1979, the Society contributed $25,000 of the CSEG’s share of convention profits to the University of Calgary’s fund for a Chair in Geophysics. CSEG member Wes Rabey is credited with the success of the project, which raised over $600,000 plus matching support from the Alberta government, to endow the chair. Continuing Education courses for Society members continued to be popular in 1979. The most successful course, "Geology for Geophysicists," was organised with assistance from University of Calgary and the geophysical industry.

In 1979 the University Liaison Committee was divided into four sub-committees, each designed to communicate with a different educational institute or institutes. The University of Calgary, the Southern Alberta Institute of technology, Mount Royal College and the other major Canadian universities were regularly contacted by the Society. A second CSEG photo directory was published and distributed during the year. In ’79 the Executive Committee expanded once again, this time to include the Recorder editor.

The Manitoba Geophysical Committee held its inaugural meeting in ’79. The committee, a part of the CSEG, was created in order to give Manitoba geophysicists better access to the Society.

That same year a geophysicist was elected as President of the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta for the first time. Roy O. Lindseth took office in a time when there was increasing dissatisfaction among geophysicists who found it difficult to obtain registration. Petroleum geophysicists can be mathematicians or computer experts and have only rudimentary knowledge of classical geophysics as required by APEGGA. As a result, in 1980, a special committee was established to examine alternatives, and substantial revisions to the ACT were proclaimed in 1981.

(Taken from ‘Traces Through Time’ by David Finch, 1985)