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Celebrating Two Centuries, Past and Future

President Lyndon Johnson wrote the accompanying letter to commemorate AAPG’s 50th anniversary in 1966.

The date in view for AAPG’s beginning was a little different than our current reckoning, due to differences in determining the start of the organization.

In Tulsa in October 1915, J. Elmer Thomas separately, but with the same purpose in mind, “ ... invited to dinner 30 friends who were active as petroleum geologists principally in northern Oklahoma, for the express purpose of fostering friendship within our ranks and of permitting the mutual benefits that would arise from the occasional exchange of data and ideas in a profession then quite new but expanding rapidly in the Mid-Continent oil fields.”

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President Lyndon Johnson wrote the accompanying letter to commemorate AAPG’s 50th anniversary in 1966.

The date in view for AAPG’s beginning was a little different than our current reckoning, due to differences in determining the start of the organization.

In Tulsa in October 1915, J. Elmer Thomas separately, but with the same purpose in mind, “ ... invited to dinner 30 friends who were active as petroleum geologists principally in northern Oklahoma, for the express purpose of fostering friendship within our ranks and of permitting the mutual benefits that would arise from the occasional exchange of data and ideas in a profession then quite new but expanding rapidly in the Mid-Continent oil fields.”

The first meeting of this fledgling organization was held in Norman, Okla., Jan. 7-8, 1916, with about 60 geologists in attendance. For the purposes of the 50th anniversary, this was regarded as the first meeting of the Association, even though the Association was not yet formally organized. Geologists from Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas attended; prominent among them were Alexander Deussen, William Kennedy, R. C. Moore, Wallace E. Pratt, J. A. Udden and W. E. Wrather.

The Association was predicated on early oil field discoveries in Oklahoma and Kansas, which “did much to impress operators with the realization that geologists were equipped to find oil fields.”

A Look at the Past Century

The aforementioned letter from the White House was published in the April 1966 issue of the AAPG Bulletin, which also documented the history of the Association from inception through the U.S. industry’s formative years, which included the Great Depression, the incorporation of the airplane in geology, “crooked” holes, a second World War, the formation of the Distinguished Lecture Committee in 1942, the establishment of the Code of Ethics, and many of the practices and committees that are active today. Other significant events have unfolded in the time since that milestone issue of the Bulletin: the oil embargo, the 1980s boom and bust, development of 3-D seismic and the onset of the unconventional shale plays.

It’s important to understand what got us here today and what will be celebrated at the 100th anniversary Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE) in Houston this April.

Besides the usual ACE events, technical sessions, Imperial Barrel Award competition, short courses and field trips, there will be many events dedicated to the 100th anniversary.

There is the 100th Anniversary Gala Dinner with keynote speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Daniel Yergin; a Preservation of Geoscience Data Display showing core displays representing the major reservoir and play types that have resulted in giant or significant oil and gas fields over the last 100 years; and a data display including examples of early logs and seismic on paper and film to show how the amount and format of data and information has changed. There are events and displays showcasing the GeoLegends interview series comprising 50 interviews with 62 key geoscientists who made game-changing discoveries, significant scientific contributions that were adopted by the greater geo-community, or people who made significant contributions in building companies or service to the profession, Pioneering Women in Petroleum Geology, and many other historical events and displays.

A Look at the Next Century

But we’re not just celebrating the past 100 years. We’re also celebrating the next 100 years, and the future of geoscience, in forums and special events. A display of the Digital Interactive Geology (DIG) program will be on display, which is a 3-D world model on which field trips and eventually other publications can be displayed in a Google Earth style model.

Finally, the industry and the Association are adapting to a world and environment that are changing at an increasingly rapid rate. Along that path are some twists and turns, as every one of our Members are experiencing in their own lives and careers, and the Association is doing everything it can to help along the way. AAPG expenses have been trimmed close, but the slump continues to impact revenue, particularly from events. There have been slow times and downturns in the past, and the current downturn is as tough as any prior, and will likely persist for a while. Your Association and the Executive Committee are taking the obstacles in stride.

Future technology is changing the way that the workforce performs its tasks, and the reliance on that technology will require a decided effort on the professional to stay current.

Stand with us as we proceed into the next 100 years. I am looking forward to seeing many of you at ACE next month.

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