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One of the world’s largest reserves of oil sits under the boreal forest of northwestern Alberta, Canada. The deposit covers about 142,200 square kilometers (54,900 square miles), an area a little larger than the U.S. state of Wisconsin.

Known as the oil sands region, it accounts for the largest segment of Alberta’s economy. According to Alberta Energy, proven reserves in the oil sands in 2016 were 165.4 billion barrels.

This series of imagery focuses on the largest of the three oil sands areas in Alberta, the Athabasca region. Located just north of Fort McMurray along the Athabasca River, the mining of the Athabasca region has grown dramatically over the last three decades.

Imagery

Every picture has a story to tell
Aug. 6, 1989, Landsat 5 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada
Aug. 17, 1993, Landsat 5 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada
June 15, 1999, Landsat 5 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada
June 28, 2004, Landsat 5 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada
July 4, 2006, Landsat 5 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada
Sep. 14, 2009, Landsat 5 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada
Sep. 20, 2011, Landsat 5 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada
Sep. 28, 2014, Landsat 8 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada
July 15, 2016, Landsat 8 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada
Aug. 25, 2022, Landsat 9 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada
Aug. 25, 2022, Landsat 9 (path/row 42/20) — Athabasca Oil Sands, Alberta, Canada

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References

Alberta Culture and Tourism, 2016, Resources: Oil Sands Discovery Centre, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://history.alberta.ca/oilsands/resources/resources.aspx.

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), 2017, What Are Oil Sands? CAPP, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://www.capp.ca/canadian-oil-and-natural-gas/oil-sands/what-are-oil-sands.

CBC News, 2016, Fort McMurray wildfire now considered under control: CBC News, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/fort-mcmurray-wildfire-now-considered-under-control-1.3664947.

European Space Agency (ESA), 2017, Sentinel-2: Sentinel Online, accessed February 13, 2017, at https://sentinel.esa.int/web/sentinel/missions/sentinel-2.

Fort McMurray Tourism, 2017, Experience The Energy Oil Sands Tours: Fort McMurray Tourism, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://www.fortmcmurraytourism.com/explore-wood-buffalo/experience-energy-oil-sands-tours.

Government of Alberta, 2017, Facts and Statistics: Alberta Energy, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://www.energy.alberta.ca/OilSands/791.asp.

Government of Alberta, 2017, Oil Sands Information Portal: Alberta Energy, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://osip.alberta.ca/map/.

Government of Alberta, 2017, Reclamation: Alberta Energy, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://www.energy.alberta.ca/OilSands/1722.asp.

Government of Alberta, 2017, Recovery or Extraction: Alberta Energy, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://www.energy.alberta.ca/OilSands/1719.asp.

Government of Alberta, 2017, What Is Oil Sands? Alberta Energy, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://www.energy.alberta.ca/OilSands/793.asp.

Kunzig, R., 2009, The Canadian Oil Boom: National Geographic, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/03/canadian-oil-sands/kunzig-text.

Mining-technology.com, 2017, Athabasca Oil Sands, Canada: mining-technology.com, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://www.mining-technology.com/projects/athabascasands/.

Richens, T., Bergstrom, D., and Purdy, B., 2014, Reclamation of Boreal Forest Ecosystems Following Oil-Sands Mining: Alaska Park Science, v. 13, no. 2, accessed February 6, 2017, at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/alaskaparkscience/archives.htm.

Riebeek, H., 2016, Athabasca Oil Sands: NASA Earth Observatory World of Change, accessed February 6, 2017, at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/WorldOfChange/athabasca.php.

USGS, 2016, Landsat 8 Shows Burn Extent, Active Fire at Fort McMurray: Image of the Week, accessed February 6, 2017, at https://eros.usgs.gov/imagegallery/image-week-2#FtMcMurray-Fire-2_images_0.

USGS, 2017, Landsat Missions: USGS, accessed February 13, 2017, at https://landsat.usgs.gov/.

USGS, 2016, Wildfire Forces Evacuations in Fort McMurray, Alberta: Image of the Week, accessed February 6, 2017, at https://eros.usgs.gov/imagegallery/image-week-2#Fort-McMurray-Fire-imagery.

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