Fueling Prosperity with Bold Initiatives

As President John F. Kennedy famously said in his 1962 speech at Rice University in Houston, difficult challenges serve “to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.”

I am happy to report that the super basin concept I wrote about in my July column is working to focus energies and skills within AAPG. On March 1-2, 2018 the inaugural Global Super Basin Leadership Conference will be held at the Hilton Americas in Houston. Save the date! We have confirmed talks by Scott Sheffield, executive chairman of Pioneer; Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology; Bob Fryklund and Pete Stark of IHS; and Greg Leveille, chief technology officer of ConocoPhillips.

Many of the industry’s most outstanding explorers will discuss technological innovations that allow richly endowed petroleum systems to “keep on giving.” Bulletin articles are in the works for at least eight super basins, with more to follow. Thus, AAPG will boldly focus on providing critically relevant geoscience.

As Michael Porter of Harvard Business School has said, “Energy fuels prosperity.” The national benefit thus far from the recent energy renaissance has been a per capita GDP increase of $1,400 per year. There is a profound potential benefit from studying global super basins.

Image Caption

From left to right: Ray Thomasson, Gerry Friedman and Charles Sternbach during the 2000 ACE in New Orleans.

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As President John F. Kennedy famously said in his 1962 speech at Rice University in Houston, difficult challenges serve “to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.”

I am happy to report that the super basin concept I wrote about in my July column is working to focus energies and skills within AAPG. On March 1-2, 2018 the inaugural Global Super Basin Leadership Conference will be held at the Hilton Americas in Houston. Save the date! We have confirmed talks by Scott Sheffield, executive chairman of Pioneer; Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology; Bob Fryklund and Pete Stark of IHS; and Greg Leveille, chief technology officer of ConocoPhillips.

Many of the industry’s most outstanding explorers will discuss technological innovations that allow richly endowed petroleum systems to “keep on giving.” Bulletin articles are in the works for at least eight super basins, with more to follow. Thus, AAPG will boldly focus on providing critically relevant geoscience.

As Michael Porter of Harvard Business School has said, “Energy fuels prosperity.” The national benefit thus far from the recent energy renaissance has been a per capita GDP increase of $1,400 per year. There is a profound potential benefit from studying global super basins.

AAPG’s Geoscience Content Engines

Member engagement is one of my top priorities this year as AAPG president.

Did you know that early each year, AAPG’s approximately 30-plus committees undergo committee changes and fine-tuning? This renewal enables committees to continue to provide valuable content for our Members. AAPG committees are assemblages of passionate people – they are nucleation centers of creativity!

I’d like to showcase a few exemplary examples that are representative of the talent collected in our committees:

  • 100th Anniversary: This committee has achieved far-reaching goals over the last 14 years. It will be deactivated after the International Conference and Exhibition (ICE) in London next month. Accomplishments include: GeoLegends videos, a very successful AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE) in Houston, the Top 100 Papers exhibit, the Top Field Trips and the popular Discovery Thinking Forums. The Discovery Thinking Forums (co-sponsored by the Division of Professional Affairs) will continue on as a living legacy to the committee. Forums 19 and 20 are planned at the London ICE next month and Salt Lake City ACE next year, respectively. The content from this committee has been a rich legacy of papers, videos and presentations on Search and Discovery.
  • History of Petroleum Geology: The committee continues to successfully organize and conduct very popular and well-attended sessions at ACE and ICE. More sessions are being planned for the London and Salt Lake City conventions. Hans Krause continues to solicit, edit, and submit well-received Historical Highlights articles on a monthly basis to the EXPLORER.
  • Astrogeology Committee: These hardworking 20-plus members organize sessions at ACE meetings. They recently published Memoir 103 on Solar System Resources. They led a field trip to NASA at the 2017 ACE in Houston. In August this year, the committee organized a geologic field trip to view the solar eclipse with AAPG Members and astronauts Jack Schmitt and Jim Reilly.

Committees produce meaningful content for AAPG, they engage our members, and they impact AAPG’s business. I encourage you to review the committees online and to get involved by contacting the chair. You will be glad you did. Benefits include rewarding experiences, valued friendships, and working on meaningful enriching projects. To learn more and get involved, visit aapg.to/allcommittees.

AAPG is also forming Special Interest Groups and Technical Interest Groups. These are groups where individuals of common interests meet. To learn more, visit aapg.to/explosigstigs.

Student Involvement is Crucial to AAPG’s Future

This month, many graduate and undergraduate geoscience students return to their colleges and universities to hit the books. I was president of the Sigma Gamma Epsilon science club 35 years ago at the geology department of Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, organizing geology student programs and talks. And today I am still at it! I plan on attending the AAPG Student Expo in Houston on Sept. 18 to meet students and look at their posters. Other expos are being held in Laramie, Wyo., Northridge, Calif., and in the eastern United States. AAPG is going to do an assessment of what the future geoscience workforce will need to know to be prepared. What are the skills recruiters and companies are looking for? I’ve appointed Steven Sonnenberg of Colorado School of Mines to chair an AAPG Blue Ribbon ad hoc committee on “Future Workforce Trends.”

The Map That Changed the New World

Even though I am thinking about students, I am also working on my AAPG Eastern Section talk to be delivered Sept. 26 in Morgantown, W. Va. The title of the talk is “Amos Eaton and The Map that Changed the New World.”

For a little background on my talk and how it relates to education: I am a big fan of William Smith, the geologist and mapper in England in the early 1800’s. You probably read “The Map that Changed the World” by Simon Winchester about Smith’s maps of the geology of Great Britain. These maps enabled England’s engineers to mine the energy needed to fuel the industrial revolution.

For Americans, the New York State Erie Canal changed our world. The Erie Canal enabled cross-sectional outcrops of upstate New York. The sides of the Erie Canal became a window into the geology and resources of the northeast region. While discussing the importance of the Erie Canal with author Simon Winchester at the Denver ACE in 2015, Winchester told me “The Erie Canal made New York… New York.” What he meant was that the Erie Canal made New York’s harbor critical to opening up a continent. It is timely to celebrate the Erie Canal in 2017, as this year marks its 200th anniversary, its construction having begun in 1817.

My talk will focus on a famous historical person, Amos Eaton. Like William Smith, Eaton served time in prison where he instructed fellow inmates in geology and natural science. He was so helpful that he was released and became good friends with New York Gov. DeWitt Clinton and Stephen van Rensselaer. In 1824, Eaton and Rensselaer founded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a new type of American school, built on field and laboratory work. Eaton changed the way geology was taught in colleges. He founded a new practical education system in which the professor worked with his students in the field, and professor and students learned from each other, instead of the professor primarily lecturing to the students.

Eaton and his students mapped the Erie Canal road cuts and riverbeds, creating much of the detailed stratigraphic column used today. RPI graduates who studied with Amos Eaton established many U.S. state geological surveys. My RPI doctoral professor, Dr. Gerald M. Friedman was a disciple of the Amos Eaton practical method of education when I learned geology. I will be remembering Dr. Friedman’s lectures on Amos Eaton this month.

By the way, Dr. Friedman received AAPG’s Sidney Power Memorial Award in 2000. I was very proud to be able to write and present his citation!

In next month’s column, I will discuss “Managing AAPG with a Business Focus,” which helps us meet our mission more effectively.

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