Virtual Field Trip Utah - Upper Cretaceous Blackhawk

Virtual outcrop tour of the Upper Cretaceous Blackhawk Fm, Coal Canyon, Utah: near vertical exposures observed by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) of extensive and continuous shoreface and coastal plain successions incised by a younger fluvial channel: outcrop analogue for the Lower Grand Rapids Formation.

Field Trip Leaders: Rudy Strobl, Jen Russel-Houston and Wes Sutherland.
Date: March 12, 2021, 1:00-2:30 PM (MST)
The elink will be sent two days in advance of the virtual field trip
CPD: 1.5

CSPG Member Rate
Non-Member Rate   $75+gst 

Registration for this virtual field trip is through the Gussow Conference registration system. You do not need to be conference delegate to attend this course.

Become a CSPG member and receive discounted rates for courses!
Registration closes: March 10, 2021


The Book Cliffs of Utah, provide continuous 500m thick exposures, of Upper Cretaceous offshore, shelf, shoreface, deltaic and onshore coastal plain successions associated with the western shorelines of the North American Interior Seaway.  At that time (Campanian), sea levels are estimated to be about 250m higher than present day with the seaway extending from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada’s Arctic.  

An exciting new oil sands play of Alberta’s Lower Grand Rapids Formation, is showcased in this study, with outcrop analogues of the Blackhawk Formation and overlying Castlegate Sandstones at the Book Cliffs Coal Canyon and Deadman Canyon localities.  UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) provide data from inaccessible, near vertical exposures.  Thousands of photos stitched together, allow us to create comprehensive and detailed 3-dimensional models used in this study. 

Numerous side canyons 3-d control, desert environment (minimal vegetation) and nearly-horizontal structural orientation combine to make these exposures a world-class field laboratory for studying clastic sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy (Pattison, 2019).  Detailed reservoir characterization and regional perspectives are highlighted to model the Lower Grand Rapids Formation in Alberta based on these ideal outcrop analogues.

Who should attend?

This virtual tour is intended for all researchers, geoscientists and students who wish to study petroleum systems, enhance their exploration skills, understand your reservoir better and optimize production.

About the Instructors

Rudy Strobl, P. Geo., partner in VGeoTours.

Rudy earned his B.Sc. (Hon) in Geology from the University of Manitoba and M.Sc. in Geology from the University of Alberta. Rudy began his career with research at the Alberta Geological Survey, focusing on conventional, coal and oil sands geology.  Following 10 years of research activities, Rudy moved to industry, initially working for Newport Petroleum in conventional oil and gas exploration. He moved to new positions focusing on heavy oil and oil sands geology with Alberta Energy Company, Encana, Enerplus Resources, Statoil Canada, and Nexen CNOOC Oil Sands Division.  Currently Rudy is semi-retired, a partner in VGeoTours offering virtual tours using UAV technology and initiating cost effective training/mentoring and geoscience services.

Rudy has specialized in oil sands and steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) projects over the past 18 years. Rudy has 30 years of conventional, heavy oil and oil sands geology experience in Western Canada.  He is co-founder and instructor of the Oil Sands SAGD Fundamentals Short Course and Field Seminar offered by the CSPG continuing education division.  Rudy is the author or co-author of more than 40 oil sands publications and presentations.  His research focuses on reservoir characterization studies including the application of image log interpretation in conjunction with core and outcrop data to better understand 3-d geometries and associated reservoir performance.

 Dr. Jen Russel-Houston, PhD, P.Geo. Vice President, Geoscience and Land at Osum Oil Sands Corp

Prior to joining Osum in 2008, Dr. Jen Russel-Houston worked for Shell on both onshore and offshore projects where she developed expertise in reservoir evaluations, thermal production geology, and leading technical teams.  As Vice President, Geoscience and Land she oversees Osum’s geoscience evaluations as they relate to current assets and guides the assessment of future potential opportunities of interest to Osum.  Dr. Russel-Houston is an active member of APEGA and is the Past President of the Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists. Jen is most content exploring the mountains with her husband and her two boys, who accommodate her frequent stops to hunt fossils and look at outcrops.

Wes Sutherland, Sr. Geological Technologist

 Wes graduated top of the class in Petroleum Geology at SAIT and began his technical career with Canadian Hunter Exploration working the WCSB. Taking advantage of Canhunter’s many technical advancement programs during the 90s, Wes developed cutting-edge 3D visualisation schemes which were well received at many CSPG and other conferences. In the new millennium, Wes joined AEC’s (later Encana’s) SAGD team and thrived in the high science of thermal recovery, again providing specialized graphics for geological publications, papers, talks, and field guides. Contracting for Enerplus, Statoil, Husky, and others, he continued to push the merits of 3D visualisations. Now a licensed drone (RPAS) pilot and computer modeller, he builds digital outcrop models (DOMs) for Augmented and Virtual Reality experiences revealing new insights and perspectives through his company Rock Star Geotechnical. 

Cancellation Policy:
Cancellation policy: No refunds available. Substitutes acceptable. Please email

CPD Credits 1 hour of technical training is 1 APEGA CPD Credit. For More information on APEGA's CPD regulation Click Here

CSPG Virtual Field Trip Cancellation
CSPG reserves the right to cancel any virtual field trip due to low registration. 

If CSPG cancels a virtual field trip, registrants will be able to receive a full refund or transfer their  registration to another available virtual field trip
or event