Eastern Canadian Rocky Mountain Structural Geology Roadside and Hiking Trips


An opportunity to enjoy structural geology in the field, irrespective of your previous exposure to Earth Sciences.


With nearly thirty years of experience in the petroleum and mining industry, as an exploration geoscientist, Normand Bégin (Ph.D., P.Geol.) incorporated Nanook Geo-Exploration Inc in July 2019.

Expertise is offered in structural geology for exploration and development of natural resources in deformed mountain belts, using techniques such as field mapping, seismic interpretation, generation of drilling prospects and wellbore geosteering. A series of roadside and hiking geology field trips are being offered in the Eastern Canadian Rockies of the Banff and Kananaskis Parks.  Normand’s proven speaking skills and experience presenting technical information at industry conventions and to the general public, along with his extensive outdoor exposure to several mountain belts in the world, will make these trips both informative and entertaining.

Field trips are available to a wide range of audience, from the general public to geoscientists in the petroleum and mining industry keen to learn about surface structural geology and/or their subsurface analogs for rock deformation mechanisms. Explanations and illustrations provided in the field are tailored according to the pre-existing level of knowledge in Earth Sciences, to provide a captivating and rewarding outing for everyone attending beyond the physiographic beauty of the mountains. As single or multi-day trips, they can serve as the foundation of a team building event for any company working in the natural resources industry.

Normand Bégin on top of Wind Tower (Canmore area, Alberta), admiring the structural geology in the Rundle Range above the Bow Valley, with the Three Sisters Mountains in the background.

Normand Bégin

Normand graduated with a BSc in Geological Engineering at Laval University in 1985, then completed a Ph.D. in Geology at Queen’s University in 1989. He worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Calgary (1990-1992), then in mining exploration in the NWT for 2 years as a structural geologist and field mapper. He worked as a structural geologist with the Foothills Research Project (University of Calgary) from 1994 to 1996, before joining Talisman Energy as an exploration and structural geoscientist in various deformed belts around the world. Along with his teamates, he has successfully geosteered over 50 wells with several commercial hydrocarbon discoveries in thrust-fold belts of the Canadian Rockies Foothills, Llanos Foothills of Columbia, Zagros Belt of Kurdistan. From 2015 to 2019 with Repsol Canada, he worked on projects in Papua New Guinea, Russia, Algeria and Bolivia. Since the mid 1990’s, he has safely led several structural geology trips for the industry in areas of various remoteness of mountain belts of Canada (Alberta, BC, NWT), Iraq (Kurdistan) and Australia (Queensland). In addition of extensive knowledge about structural geology in the Eastern Canadian Rockies, Normand has also hiked and scrambled to several peaks over the last 30 years in the Kananaskis and Banff parks, capturing photos of stunning mountain geological features. His vast outdoor experience also includes over 25 self-guided ski mountaineering and backpacking expeditions in mountainous and icefield terrains of Western Canadian Rockies and Baffin Island. His passion for the outdoors transcends to his keen desire to transmit his knowledge of mountain geology in the field, to anyone in the general public or geoscientists and engineers in the resources industry. 



Geological field trips (roadside and hikes) in the Canadian Eastern Rockies Belt.


Structural Geology and Seismic Interpretation in MOVE, LITHOTEC, or PETREL.


Mentorship in structural geology for geoscientists, engineers, and the general public.


Geosteering wellbores while drilling to intended targets in deformed and fractured reservoirs​.


Field geological mapping and prospecting for the mining and petroleum industries.


Prospect generation in deformed geological mountain belts, worldwide.

Field Trips

Up to 10-hour return roadside trip, with possible diner in Canmore on the way back. The trip will stop at 8 to 10 places along the TransCanada Highway 1, involving little walking away from the bus. Stunning views of classic Rocky Mountain Geology features, with explanations provided at each stop along useful diagrams and maps. Ideal trip for anyone keen for a general understanding of mountain belt evolution and/or getting good surface structural geology analogs of folded and fractured rocks explored and drilled in the subsurface. Geological terms and details tailored according to the previous level of earth sciences exposure from the attendees. Trip led anytime of the year, weather permitting. Shorter version of this trip is possible to either Canmore, Banff or Lake Louise, spending more time in those mountain towns.

Including a 1.5-hour drive from Calgary to some scenic mountain geology features along Highway 40 in the Kananaskis Country, on the way to the trailhead. The hike will start in the beautiful alpine area of Highwood Pass (2206 m ASL) and gain 400 meters over a distance of 4.5 km, to reach Little Highwood Pass and Pocaterra Ridge. We will be looking at thrust leading edge deformation common in the Banff-Kananaskis corridor areas, seeing along-strike lateral ramping and termination of major thrust sheets in the Eastern Rockies of Alberta. We will be walking on the surface trace of the Lewis Thrust, one of the most prominent thrust faults in the Canadian Rockies Front Ranges. Excellent outcrop exposures analogs to Foreland-Foothills subsurface structures in Mesozoic clastics and Paleozoic carbonates. Ideal trip for operation geologists, drilling engineers and seismic processors/interpreters, challenged to deal with complexly deformed rocks explored in a thrust-fold belt. Also, a good team building event for any group seeking an outdoor experience, while learning about mountain geology in the beautiful setting of the Rockies in the Kananaskis Country. Assume about 8 hours return time from Calgary. Trip led from June 15 to October 10. Easy to moderate level of hiking.

Starting near Dead Man’s Flat, above Highway 1 east of Canmore (AB), the hike will gain 850 meters in elevation over a one-way distance of 7.5 km. Moderate to strenuous level of hiking. This geo-hike takes place on one of the most scenic ridges above the Bow Valley corridor, overlooking at awesome structural geology features on either side (footwall and hangingwall) of the Rundle Thrust. Stunning views of the Three Sisters Mountains, Mount Lougheed, Wind Tower and Mount Allan allow for a unique background to the teaching provided in the field. Challenges of drilling complex leading-edge structures, poorly imaged in seismic data, are shown. The field analogs seen, with explanations of mechanical stratigraphic controls of the deformation, are useful templates for subsurface exploration in clastics and carbonate rocks of thrust-fold belts. Trip led from June 20 to October 15. The hike will take between 6 and 7.5 hours to complete from the parking lot. Hiking poles are recommended; no scrambling involved.

This roadside trip (no hiking involved) will start with a drive on the TransCanada Highway 1 and Highway 40 to Highwood Pass. A series of 10 roadside stops will outline beautiful mountain structural geology features, nicely exposed to discuss the main architectural features of the Eastern Canadian Rockies Belt. After heading north on Highway 40 to Highway 1, the trip will continue to Canmore and Banff. Combined with a series of government-published geological maps and cross-sections, key photos taken by the author during hikes and scrambles to local peaks, the outcrops observed in the field will be the backbone to get a good three-dimensional picture of the mountain structural geometry in this portion of the front ranges of the Canadian Cordillera. Account for 8 hours return time to Calgary, with added possibility of dinner in Canmore or Banff.


Recent POSTS

Vue tridimensionnelle des structures dans les Rocheuses Canadiennes: analogues utiles pour l’exploration et forage pétrolier dans les ceintures orogéniques.

Depuis près de 30 ans, l’auteur a grimpé de nombreuses montagnes dans les parcs nationaux des Rocheuses Canadiennes à l’ouest de Calgary, entre autres dans la région de Banff et Kananaskis. Ayant de plus exploré et foré en tant que géologue structurale dans plusieurs chaînes de montagnes ailleurs que dans…


Bégin, N. and Veilleux, B. 2017 – Effects of sedimentary facies on structural styles in the Canadian Rocky Mountain Fold and Thrust Belt, in Hsieh, J.C.C., ed., Geologic Field Trips of the Canadian Rockies: 2017 Meeting of the GSA Rocky Mountain Section: Geological Society of America Field Guide 48, p. 1–46.

Bégin, N. 2013 – Influence of pre-existing Late Cretaceous extensional faulting on origin and extent of a Pliocene-age Triangle Zone in the Zagros Mountain Belt of SE Kurdistan. Geological Society of London conference on Hydrocarbon Exploration in the Zagros Mountains January 23-25, 2013; abstract with talk.

Bégin, N. and Spratt, D.A. 2002 – Role of transverse faulting in along-strike termination of Limestone Mountain Culmination, Rocky Mountain thrust-and-fold belt, Alberta. J. of Structural Geology, vol. 24, p. 689-707.

Bégin, N. and Quartero, B. 2001 – Complex Structural Geometry within a Single Thrust Sheet and its Effect on Well Deliverability. CSPG Annual Convention, Calgary, Alberta; abstract with talk.

Bégin, N., Lawton, D.C. and Spratt, D.A. 1996 – Seismic interpretation of the Rocky Mountain Thrust Front near the Crowsnest Deflection, southern Alberta. Bulletin of Canadian Petroleum Geology, vol. 44, p. 1-13.

Bégin, N. and Stubley, M. 1993 – Field Relationships between deformation, granitic intrusions and metamorphism at the northern margin of the Yellowknife supracrustal basin, Slave Structural Province. Geological Association of Canada, Program with Abstracts, 18.

Stubley, M. and Bégin, N. J., 1993. Geology of the Smokey Lake area, southern Slave Province; parts of NTS 85 PI3 & 6: NWT Geology Division DLWD, Yellowknife, EGS 1993-05

Bégin, N. J., 1992. Contrasting mineral isograds sequences in metabasites of the Cape Smith Belt, Northern Québec, Canada – three new bathograds for mafic rocks. J. of Metamorphic Geology, vol 10, p. 685-704.


What People Say

I have known and worked with Normand Begin for over 16 years where he was regarded as one of the top Structural Specialists within Talisman/Repsol with global experience in Fold & Thrust belts. He is very knowledgeable and passionate about structural geology with an industry focus on well results. He is a great prospect generator and an expert in structural geology and geosteering with over 25 years of oil & gas experience. He is a great mentor with a positive and team focused attitude. He has also led many field trips including a Structural Geology Field School which relates outcrop exposures to the subsurface. I would highly recommend Normand for your structural geology and field trip needs.
Pradeep Bhatnagar
Exploration Geoscientist Lead
Global New Ventures, EMD E&P
Repsol Oil & Gas SEA Pte. Ltd.
Normand has extensive experience in oil and gas exploration. He is one of the most successful oil and gas exploration geologists that I know, with experience throughout the globe. He has done field work or hiked through most of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and knows the geology like no other. He is an excellent teacher and enjoys passing on his knowledge of the rocks and exploration geology to anyone who wants to listen and learn. In the past he has shared his structural expertise and experience of geosteering in complex structural terranes with hundreds of co-workers and students.
Byron Veilleux
Geologic Advisor
CNOOC International Ltd.
Normand has been a much appreciated colleague for many years. I have enjoyed his field trips on frequent occasions and have been impressed with his detailed knowledge and his enthusiastic leadership. Normand has proved himself on many occasions as an expert explorer and an all round well educated geologist with an intimate knowledge of structures and local details. His skills in directing wells to their intended targets have been widely recognized and he enjoys sharing his expertise. An ideal lecturer and leader.
Bob Quartero
Retired P. Geo
Exploration Manager, North American Foothills Exploration
Talisman Energy (2003-2008)
Normand was a fundamental part of many major oil & gas discoveries in the complex structural plays of the Canadian foothills, Kurdistan, Colombia & PNG. He pioneered Talisman’s geosteering processes in the Canadian foothills with great success, usually where seismic is useless (and often quite misleading). The courses Normand gives based on these experiences are very informative and always fun.
David Nolan
G&G Manager
Idemitsu Vietnam


  • Day Trips
  • 1/2/3/5 Day Experiences
  • Custom Packages

Booking is ongoing and will be personalized to your needs. Please contact Normand using the form below for more information.


You may contact Normand by emailing info@nanookgeo.ca, or by completing the form below.

Additionally, you may contact Normand at:
+1-403-861-8272 (mobile / text messages)

All the material shown in this current website belongs to Normand Bégin and Nanook Geo-Exploration Inc. (unless otherwise stated) and is not intended for general distribution. If you would like further information or permission to show any photos or other material, please contact Normand Bégin at Nanook Geo-Exploration Inc. via info@nanookgeo.ca