Ten reasons to visit
the Web site of the San Joaquin Geological Society (SJGS) in Bakersfield,
10. To see Dan the Otter.
9. It's one of the few geological Web sites to carry
a lewd photograph of a cactus. (Really)
8. For meeting information, click the dancing penguins.
7. Short refresher course on "How to Find Oil
6. Find the flying pig.
5. Scope out SJGS publications.
4. Clinton jokes. Lots of 'em.
3. A history of oil in Kern County, Calif.
2. Bad puns. Very bad puns.
And the Number One reason to visit the society's
1. It includes a shrine to that most elusive of geological
geniuses, the "possibly fictional" Jean B. Senteur de
Beyond that, the SJGS Web pages provide an interesting
study for other groups hoping to establish a presence on the Internet.
It gives information. Lots of it. But it also has
a certain Mad Magazine-esque personality that defies the stereotypical
self-important, multiple-pins-on-the-lapel approach to communicating.
In short, it's hip, irreverent and it makes it apparent that petroleum
geologists actually have a sense of humor. The site maybe should
The fun these geologists are having may be contagious.
The creative mind behind the site belongs to Web master
Mike Clark, staff geologist for Chevron in Bakersfield. Clark said
the idea for a Web page started four years ago with the society's
"We sat down and came up with a page initially
to notify members of when the meetings were. As it developed, other
people had suggestions and those were included," he explained.
Today, the Web page has become "part of the
lifeblood" of SJGS, according to Clark. "If I said I was
tired of this and want out, there would be a committee come together
very quickly to keep it going," he said.
But what of Senteur de Boue?
Like many geologists, Senteur de Boue had rocks in
his head from an early age. He allegedly attended the University
of Lyons, near Lyons, France, and later moved to the United States.
According to the SJGS site, "Monsieur de Boue's
name in French loosely translates to 'Mud Sniffer'."
Clark called Senteur de Boue a "legendary member"
of the San Joaquin society. His name supposedly appears in the 1955
directory of the Pacific Section of AAPG, listing him as an independent
consultant with an office on Oak Street in Bakersfield.
As SJGS records show, "this address corresponds
to a Tidewater service station that was once located across from
the Oceanic (Oil Company) offices."
Senteur de Boue's name may be most closely linked
to his pioneering work in Negative Isopach Theory. The SJGS Web
site carries a precis of this important contribution.
The author explains that "many maps containing
negative isopachs are computer-generated and result from sophisticated
software packages incapable of producing erroneous data.
"Nonetheless, because negative isopachs require
the rocks in question to have negative thickness and volumes, some
geologists of the old school reject this possibility."
By closely studying negative isopachs, Senteur de
Boue traced their origin to two processes: bi-directional erosion
and ultra-high rates of erosion.
He observed that such isopachs "are economically
appealing because of rock properties that include porosities and
net-to-gross sandstone ratios greater than 1.0.
"For example, if a reservoir rock is saturated
with oil, and total pore volume within the reservoir exceeds the
volume of rock matrix, then the volume of oil exceeds the negative
volume represented by the negative isopach. Thus, infinite production
These concepts also apply to calcerous, calciclastic
and recalcitrant formations.
In an alleged poster presentation at a 1997 meeting
of the San Joaquin society, Senteur de Boue offered a new and disturbing
interpretation of the likely origins of California's Ventura Basin.
Rejecting earlier theories of tectonic rotation,
he suggested that the entire basin resulted from a meteor impact.
The SJGS site presents his novel ideas about giant
clinoforms in the area.
Even more disturbing is recent "evidence"
uncovered by Hanswurst, Zopenco, et. al., indicating that the San
Joaquin Valley itself may be an elaborate hoax.
"If the valley is, in fact, spurious,"
Zopenco noted, "somebody went to an amazing amount of trouble."
Hanswurst, Zopenco et. al could not be contacted by the EXPLORER
Starting the Web Site
Clark said SJGS started out with a Geocities Web site
but wanted its own, copyrighted site name. The society found a Web
hosting service associated with the local newspaper, and now pays
$100 annually for its proprietary site.
"You can contact local organizations to see
if there's one willing to sponsor a site," he said. "However,
if you want to have your own site name, you'll need to go ahead
and make the payments."
Clark considers the hosting fee a bargain. "What
we get for $100 a year, other outfits are paying $50-$60 a month
for," he said.
The society's Web site serves as a centralized information
point, according to Frank Cressy, a consulting geologist in Bakersfield
and former secretary of AAPG's Pacific Section.
"There's just a lot of information you can get
from it," he said. "I use it a lot for the links. There
must be 30-40 links on there."
An organization wanting to start a Web site should
get its own site address and find a local hosting service, Clark
advised. He said the designated Web master should solicit the membership
for help, ideas and quality control.
"I'm very dependent on people spotting things
that are wrong," he said. "I can't go through it and QC
Time to Laugh
In addition to details about Senteur de Boue (no relation
to Ame de Boue of the Bush Administration), the SJGS site carries
a humor page with several entries dedicated to the antics of Bill
This may be a crisis of sorts for the site, since
Clinton has given up his role as Washington's premier goret. "I'll
have to get around to doing something about that," Clark acknowledged.
In an area of the site devoted to personal information,
Clark lists himself as an "ISTP" type on the Myers-Briggs
personality test. He ranks highest in Introverted, Sensing, Thinking
and Perceiving qualities. This compares to the typical profile of
politicians on the extended Myers-Briggs test, with high scores
in Judging, Extroversion and Responsibility, in addition to Knowledge
An astonishing number of politicians fit this JERKS
profile, he said.
Clark estimated that he spends an hour updating the
Web site every other week. "During the past couple of years
it's been more of a maintenance activity," he said. He also
runs a site for a local Boy Scouts of America troop.
A committee can help a site get started and succeed,
but there should be only one Web master, Clark warned.
"You can't have multiple Web masters,"
he said. "Then you're both uploading and you don't know what
each other's doing."
Clark mastered enough Web coding to build the SJGS
site himself, although many, easy-to-use Web design products are
available, he noted.
"I write it from scratch," he said. "It's
very simplistic, once you learn the basics on the code. It's not
very intimidating at all."
If he sees something he likes elsewhere on the Web,
he examines the code and can add it to the SJGS site. Other ideas
are suggested by society members.
"People say, 'It would be neat if we had this,'
and if I get a free block of time, I go and round it up," he
The SJGS Web site includes links to other societies,
basic information about oil and gas, and a number of links to sites
of interest to petroleum geologists. "Click spot," the
home page directs, "cause he knows where to go."
It also provides information about the AAPG's Division
of Professional Affairs Certified Geologist program as well as an
oil industry exhibit at the Kern County Museum.
In addition to jokes about the foibles of human beings,
the site includes humor related to engineers and lawyers.
It takes care to follow the commandment, "Thou
shalt not be boring."
Clark knows SJGS members value their Web site, and
watch it closely:
"If it goes down, or if it isn't available for
awhile, I'll hear about it pretty quickly."
SJGS Web site