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From atmosphere to basement: development of a framework for groundwater assessment in Canada

The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) is helping map and assess the availability of groundwater resources in Canada. This effort is set within complex jurisdictions of surface water and groundwater resources in Canada where there is often no clear division between the federal and
provincial governments. Responsibilities are often shared, with the federal government sharing responsibility on water issues for federal lands, territories (e.g. Nunavut), First Nation lands, boundary and transboundary waters (e.g. Great Lakes, Spiritwood aquifer), navigable waterways and where
fisheries resources are concerned. Consequently, much government work completed on groundwater in Canada is done by the provinces with collaborative support from the GSC, the oldest government research institution in the country.
To advance groundwater assessment in Canada, the National Ad Hoc Committee on Groundwater proposed a framework for a national co-operative program (Rivera et al., 2003). At the same time, the groundwater program of the GSC developed a strategy to map and assess 30 key aquifers across the country
(Figure 1), along with a plan to remove accessibility barriers to data discovery and retrieval (Boisvert and Broderic, 2011). The GSC is also developing a synoptic understanding of the groundwater resources in Canada by using the hydrogeological regions (Figure 1, Table 1). This paper provides an
overview of the conceptual framework and methods employed to achieve these objectives. The approach is founded on a traditional basin analysis methodology (i.e., geology) with an objective of understanding the geological history of the basin to inform future work and provide a predictive framework
in areas of sparse, inadequate data and hence basin knowledge. This approach is being extended from the traditional subsurface basin context to encompass the hydrological cycle and hence understanding from atmosphere to basement.

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