Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C

Appendix D
Appendix E
Appendix F
Appendix G


Chapter 6
Geological and Geophysical Societies


6.1 Professional associations or licensing bodies are established for the primary purpose of protecting the public. In Canada, they normally have: legal status, minimum standards for admission, codes of ethics to which their members must conform, and provisions for disciplining members who fail to practice professionally or who violate the body's ethical standards. Authority usually exists in the legislation which prohibits the practice of the profession by unauthorized individuals or entities. However, while the professional body has a definite interest in the continued technical and scientific competence of its members, its concern in these matters is mostly secondary in nature.

6.2 Most professions, besides having legal status, are organized into technical or learned societies whose basic purposes are to disseminate technical/scientific information to their members and the public. Enhancement of the competence of the members of a profession over the course of their careers is more properly the role of the society rather than the professional licensing body. As such, the requirements for membership in the society are usually much less stringent than those for admission to the professional body; ethical standards, if they exist, are not enforced, and if a form of disciplinary system is in place, the penalty is relatively minimal, usually consisting of expulsion.

6.3 With respect to the profession of engineering, according to Kemper, there are over 400 engineering societies in the USA, including state and local organizations, and 21 in Canada. With respect to geology and geophysics, Geotimes, a monthly publication of the American Geological Institute, lists over 150 geological and geophysical societies in the USA, most of which are at the regional and local level, although about 20 are national organizations. This same directory lists several national and regional societies in Canada connected with geology, geophysics or the earth sciences.

6.4 The main Canadian societies listed in Geotimes are:

Association of Exploration Geochemists
Canadian Exploration Geophysical Society
Canadian Geoscience Society
Canadian Geotechnical Society
Canadian Geothermal Resources Association
Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists
Canadian Society of Soil Science
Canadian Well Logging Society
Geological Association of Canada
Mineralogical Association of Canada

Most of the above-listed societies are member societies of the Canadian Geoscience Council (see paragraph 6.18) which includes as member societies the following additional organizations:

Canadian Association of Geographers
Canadian Geophysical Union
Canadian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Canadian Quaternary Association
Canadian Chapter, International Association of Hydrogeologists

The two societies of direct interest to most persons in the geology and geophysics professions in Alberta - those involved in oil and gas - are the ones in italics above and these are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG)

6.5 In Alberta a society may be registered under the Societies Act which states: "five or more persons may become incorporated under this Act for any benevolent, philanthropic, charitable, provident, scientific, artistic, literary, social, educational, agricultural, sporting or other useful purpose, but not for the purpose of carrying on a trade or a business." The CSEG, organized by an enthusiastic group of geophysicists, was established under the Societies Act in 1949. Its object is to "promote the science of geophysics especially as it applies to exploration, and to promote fellowship and cooperation among those persons interested in geophysical problems." Operations of the Society were mainly to be carried on in the City of Calgary.

6.6 When the CSEG was formed in 1919 there were about 100 founding members. By 1967 it had a membership of 700, 1,000 in 1976 and at the end of 1989 there were 2,028 individual and 114 corporate members. The society operates under a set of bylaws which were adopted in 1959, later amended and formally registered by the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs in 1977. The bylaws cover membership, how the society is managed, meetings including technical meetings, finance, publications, committees, honours and awards, relationships with other societies including the US Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). Although an autonomous group, the CSEG also operates as a section of the international SEG which, as of 1989, had about 1,550 Canadian members out of a total membership of 15,600. Of the 1,550, most are located in Alberta.

6.7 Affairs of CSEG are managed through an Executive Committee elected annually. The society has its headquarters in Calgary. Activities are carried out by committees composed of volunteer members. Its annual budget is approximately $250,000 (1988) with revenue obtained mainly from membership dues, conventions and advertising in the monthly publication The Recorder. In addition to its technical activities, there are social activities and recreational programs which foster a spirit of comradeship among the members.

6.8 Qualifications for membership in the CSEG are broad: "Active membership may be granted to any person engaged in or interested in the geophysical profession". An application for active membership must be endorsed by three Active or Honorary Members of the Society who are personally acquainted with the applicant. A comparison of these requirements and procedures with those for registration with APEGGA illustrates the difference in roles of a professional licensing body and a technical society. With respect to ethics: "Membership in any class shall be contingent upon conformance with the established principles of professional ethics." A member who violates these principles may be suspended or expelled.

6.9 When it feels it necessary, the CSEG makes its concerns about the future of the geophysical industry known to government and the public. Examples are the submission on Alleged Abuses to the Alberta Petroleum Incentive Program (APIP) made in 1983, and a letter to the federal Minister of Energy and Natural Resources about the 1986 downturn in the industry resulting from reduced oil prices. But in the words of Valerie Neilsen, P. Geoph., 1983 CSEG President, the CSEG is "foremost a technical society, dedicated to the achievement of its objective". It does so through an excellent technical program consisting of:

  • Publications - a monthly "Recorder" and an annual "Canadian Journal of Exploration Geophysics".
  • Regular technical luncheons with talks and papers on geophysical topics.
  • Annual conventions with numerous technical sessions and papers.
  • Organizing and sponsoring continuing education courses and seminars.
  • An honours and awards program.
  • An extensive scholarship program for students at Canadian universities and institutions planning careers in exploration geophysics.

The CSEG is an excellent mechanism for its participating members to advance their technical competence in the practice of geophysics.

Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (CSPG)

6.10 This society, formed in 1927, was originally known as the Alberta Society of Petroleum Geologists. Its purpose then was to serve the professional and scientific needs of geologists in the fledgling Western Canadian oil industry. In early 1973, the Society changed its name to the "Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists" in recognition of the fact that it was now an organization of national scope, worldwide membership and represented petroleum geologists in most sedimentary basins in Canada. At that time, its membership had grown to just over 2,000. At the end of 1989, the CSPG had a membership of 3,800. Of this number, approximately 2,900 resided in Alberta, with the remainder located in other provinces (400), USA (400) and other countries (100).

6.11 The CSPG is registered under the Societies Act, and operates under a set of bylaws similar to those of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, supplemented by a detailed manual of operations. While basically a technical society, its objectives cover a wider range than those of the CSEG:

1. to advance the science of geology, especially as it relates to petroleum, natural gas and other fossil fuels;

2. to promote the technology of exploration for finding and producing these resources from the earth;

3. to foster the spirit of scientific research throughout its membership;

4. to disseminate relevant information to the public at large and to government;

5. to inspire and maintain a high standard of professional conduct on the part of its members; and

6. to provide the public a means of recognition of adequately trained and professionally responsible geologists.

6.12 Like the CSEG, the affairs and activities of the CSPG are managed and directed through an eight person Executive Committee elected annually from the membership. It is headquartered in Calgary with a full-time staff. Events and activities are organized through committees composed of over 400 Society members who volunteer their services. General income is derived primarily from membership dues, sale of publications, and conventions which in turn support its many other activities.

6.13 Qualifications for membership in the CSPG are: "Any person engaged in the work of geology or petroleum exploration or in a related research is eligible to receive an active membership, provided that he is a graduate of an institution of university standing, in which institution he has done his major work in geology or related earth science." However, these academic requirements may be waived for persons "whose standing in the profession is well recognized". With respect to ethics, the bylaws state that "each member shall be guided by the highest standards of ethics, personal honour, scientific integrity and professional conduct". Penalties for a breach of ethics are admonishment, voluntary resignation, suspension and expulsion. The bylaws also provide for a Discipline Committee which deals with violations of ethical standards.

6.14 The CSPG plays a responsible role as an active and excellent technical society through activities which include:

  • Publications - a quarterly journal "The Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology" and a monthly newsletter, the "Reservoir".
  • Hosting of and participation in international conferences and symposia.
  • Regular luncheon meetings with talks on topics and areas of scientific and exploration interest. Each meeting is attended by 500 - 1,000 geologists.
  • Continuing education courses, lectures, conferences and symposia. CSPG members, the profession, and society benefit from these activities.
  • Annual conventions.
  • Field conferences and trips.
  • An awards program.

Through membership and participation in the CSPG, every professional geologist engaged in the petroleum field can appreciably enhance his or her technical competence and professional development.

6.15 Most geologists in Alberta are involved in the petroleum industry but a significant number (10-15%) practice in other areas (mining, geotechnical, coal, environmental, Pleistocene, teaching, government surveys.) Membership in other Canadian geological societies, such as the GAC, Mineralogical Association of Canada, and others listed in paragraph 6.4 is available to these geologists.

Other Major Canadian Earth Science Societies

6.16 Geological Association of Canada (GAC) , Founded in 1947, the GAC's purpose is to advance the science of geology and to promote a better understanding thereof throughout Canada among both professionals and the general public. The GAC has several classes of membership for its 3,000 members including:

Fellows (majority) - persons holding a Bachelor's degree with a major in geology or some closely related field, and who are engaged in the practice, research or teaching of earth sciences with five years experience therein. These qualifications may be waived for persons of recognized professional standing.

Associates - geologists or other earth scientists in training who have the academic qualifications required for Fellow but lack experience, or other scientists who are interested directly or indirectly in the advancement of geology and other forms of earth science.

The GAS actively fosters the teaching of earth sciences in Canadian high schools and contributes to research through organizing annual and special meetings of earth scientists and publishing a wide variety of scientific papers. Its activities also include the organization and sponsorship of conferences, seminars, short courses, field trips, lecture tours and student and professional awards and grants.

6.17 Mineralogical Association of Canada This association was originally organized in 1954 for the purpose of sponsoring a publication devoted to mineral sciences. Its present name was adopted in 1957. The purpose of the association is to advance knowledge in crystallography, geochemistry, mineralogy, petrology and allied sciences. Any person, corporate body, or institution interested or engaged in the study or application of these sciences is eligible for membership. The association publishes a quarterly journal, "The Canadian Mineralogist", and regularly offers a number of courses on these topics which have included courses in Alberta of interest to petroleum geologists.

Canadian Geoscience Council (CGC)

6.18 Founded in 1972, the CGC is composed of 13 societies and associations, with six associate member groups. Its purpose is to foster close relations between earth science learned societies and professional associations in Canada, to promote earth science in the best interests of both the members of the constituent organizations and the Canadian nation. Member societies must function nationally, either as a separate organization or a formally established Canadian branch or division of a larger society.

6.19 The Canadian Geoscience Council meets four times per year. Its secretariat is at the earth sciences department of the university at which the Council's executive director is located. For most of its 17-year history this has been at the University of Waterloo. Its publications are printed by the geological survey of Canada and include an annual report. Composition of the Council is shown in Figure 2.

6.20 Through its member societies, the Council represents some 15,000 earth scientists. Its founding members include both the CSPG and CSEG. The Council's professional activities include: annual reports; representations on behalf of geoscience; geoscience education; advisory committees; international geoscience; geoscience education; public forums; statements on matters of public concern; sponsoring of international workshops and symposia.

US Geological and Geophysical Societies

6.21 As would be expected, there are many more technical geoscience societies in the USA than in Canada. One such organization, the American Geological Institute, is a non-profit federation of 19 societies in geology and geophysics dedicated to "testing the proposition that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts".

6.22 Many US organizations function as technical or learned societies, but the scope of others is of a wider nature as well. For example, the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES) is "the only organization in the United States that is designed for the independent or consulting earth scientist. The members are geologists, geophysicists, geochemists, hydrologists, log analysts, professors, environmentalists and other earth scientists".

Figure 2 (click here)
(reprinted with permission)

6.23 Three of the larger US organizations of interest to geologists and geophysicists are described in more detail in the following paragraphs.
American Association of Petroleum Geologists

6.24 This US national organization, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is stated to be the world's largest geological society, having some 40,000 members in over 90 countries:

AAPG was formed in 1917 to foster the spirit of scientific research among its members and to advance the science of geology - particularly as it relates to petroleum and energy minerals.

To achieve these goals, AAPG publishes the "Bulletin", a monthly geologic science journal, the "Explorer" monthly newspaper, and "Geobyte" - a quarterly computer magazine; sponsors continuing education schools, seminars and field trips; holds conventions; publishes special geologic books and materials; and provides geologic information to the general public.

The membership ranges from undergraduate college students to independent oilmen and chairmen of the boards of major corporations.

6.25 The AAPG is incorporated under the laws of the State of Colorado. Membership consists of "persons concerned with the professional applications of the geological science"; admission to active membership requires a Bachelor's degree in geological science from a college of acceptable academic standards and three years of experience in the practice or teaching of geology. The degree requirement may be waived on the basis of adequate professional experience and standing.

6.26 The AAPG constitution contains a comprehensive code of ethics and provides for disciplinary measures against members who violate the code. Penalties for AAPG members whose charges of misconduct are found to be sustained consist of admonishment, suspension, permitted resignation or expulsion. The bylaws also provide for establishment of a technical division (of AAPG) to conduct a program of voluntary certification of members. A Division of Professional Affairs was set up to implement such a program for petroleum geologists and to improve professional well-being of AAPG members. This division issues a certificate for the certified petroleum geologists.

Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG)

6.27 The SEG is basically a scientific and educational society that has served exploration for more than 50 years. It has a membership of over 19,000. Its objectives are "to promote the science of geophysics, especially as it relates to exploration and research, to foster the common scientific interests of geophysicists and to maintain a high professional standing among its members". Through its scientific journal "Geophysics", and its monthly "Geophysics: The Leading Edge of Exploration", the SEG supplies a medium for the dissemination of new knowledge for the profession.

6.28 The SEG is governed under a constitution and set of bylaws, which include a code of ethics. Penalties for clear violations of the Society's code of ethics, for any action critically disruptive of SEG goals and purposes, or for serious misconduct or dishonesty are suspension or expulsion, as determined by the SEG Executive Committee.

6.29 To be eligible for active membership in the SEG, a person "must be actively engaged in practising or teaching geophysics or a related scientific field. The applicant's work must have been of a professional nature for not less than eight years and must have been of a responsible nature calling for exercise of independent judgement and the application of geological and geophysical principles during at least three years of the total eight years professional experience".

6.30 APEGGA members Norman J. Christie, P. Geoph. and Roy O. Lindseth, P. Geoph. served as President of the SEG during 1963-64 and 1976-77 respectively.

American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)

6.31 The AIPG is more than just a technical society. Its purposes include: "To advance the geological sciences and profession of geology"; "To promote high standards of ethical conduct among its members and within the profession of geology". The Institute is dedicated to communicating to the public and to its representatives the importance to society of the profession.

6.32 One of the AIPG's major activities is certification of members:

Certification is an activity that provides a service to the public. Applicants for AIPG membership undergo a peer review process in which each applicant's educational credentials are verified and a record of at least five years of professional experience is reviewed. Only applicants with satisfactory educations and records of practice that document performance in accord with high standards of technical competence and personal integrity are admitted as members of the Institute. These members receive the title "Certified Professional Geologist" (CPG). When the letters "CPG" follow an individual's name, they proclaim to the public that the individual has voluntarily allowed his/her qualifications to be formally judged by peers and has been found by peers to be worthy of public trust in the practice of geology.

6.33 Representation, information and education are other major activities of the AIPG. The interests of geology as both a science and a profession are represented at the public and federal levels. AIPG expedites the transfer of information that affects the profession of geology. Information is provided to members, educators and government officials through the monthly publication "The Professional Geologist" and the Annual Membership Directory, and to the general public through "Issues and Answers" booklets. Education is provided for its members through seminars, short courses, sectional and national meetings and publications. Educational assistance is also provided to high schools, colleges and universities.

6.34 A voluntary individual membership association, the AIPG has more than 4,700 members in the US and abroad. The 1989 directory listed 27 members in Canada, 14 of which were in Alberta. Qualifications for membership as a CPG are a university degree in geology, geophysics, geochemistry, geological engineering or their sub-divisions, five years of experience and high standards of professional integrity and ethics. Applications screening and approval procedures are quite rigorous. The organization has a distinctive code of ethics. (See Appendix E). The bylaws provide for the Executive Committee of the Institute to exercise disciplinary procedures against members who violate the provisions of the Code of Ethics. Penalties include admonition and reprimand, suspension and membership termination. The AIPG's disciplinary procedures are extensive.

Positions of American Organizations Respecting Registration

6.35 Like some members of the CSPG and CSEG, the three organizations just described have tended to oppose the introduction by US states of the licensing (by government) of geologists and geophysicists. But, like early developments in the CSEG and CSPG, there were opinions on both sides of the issue.

6.36 The Society of Exploration Geophysicists, according to its President 87-88 in an address to the Annual Meeting, had the following position: "For the record, the SEG over the past years has been against any effort to register and/or certify geophysicists, taking the position that rules of this type would tend to restrict the ability of a geophysicist to practice his profession."

6.37 The Division of Profession Affairs (DPA) of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists was established to conduct the program of voluntary member certification. The DPA established a committee on state licensing in 1987, specifically with reference to petroleum geologists, because it seemed that the freedom of petroleum geologists to practice their profession as and where they chose may be in jeopardy. According to a report of this committee, the AAPG Executive Committee resolved that "the AAPG officially opposes state registration legislation which could negate or restrict the normal practice of petroleum geology by qualified geologists who are either residents or non-residents of the state involved." This opposition does not apply to geologists other than petroleum geologists, where public safety and health are an issue.

6.38 The American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) has peer certification as one of its main activities, and it too has tended not to favour registration. To quote from some very informative comments by the AIPG Executive Director:

Now, before some of you get all stirred up about the pros and cons of registration, let me make AIPG's position very clear. What we practice and really favour, very strongly, is peer certification as a Certified Professional Geologist to be recognized by the States as equivalent to registration. Obviously, this has not occurred in most jurisdictions. There are conditions under which geologists in a state become convinced that registration in their state is necessary and they take steps to bring it about. Then, we strongly encourage them to involve members from across the entire spectrum of our profession. And, we try to give them as much help as we can to assure that any law written will be one with which all professional geologists can live. Our participation in this process should not be misinterpreted as our favouring registration per se.

6.39 The AIPG in October 1989 adopted a specific policy on registration which is discussed in the next chapter (paragraphs 7.22 - 23).

6.40 The report from the DPA described in paragraph 6.35 generated a number of comments from readers that were published in a later issue. The following excerpt from one of these letters about the enhancement or otherwise of geologic work or ethics is interesting: "This is, I admit, a difficult question. I can only suggest that the sword of a registration board hanging over one's head has a strong and positive influence on quality of work due to the power behind it. It is important to note that the mere existence of the power and the sword encourage good performance. Geologists are intelligent people, and the power need not be exercised broadly for them to get the message."