With a theme of "Crossroads of Geology, Energy and Cultures," the AAPG International Conference and Exhibition held in Barcelona, Spain, in September certainly lived up to its billing.
The Barcelona meeting was a spectacular crossroads for a gathering of geologic minds to share technology and experiences, attracting over 1,530 attendees from 62 countries.
That diversity rivals that of an AAPG annual meeting four times the Barcelona meeting's total attendance.
"We also had a ‘first' at this meeting in that all six of the AAPG region presidents attended the meeting," said Rick Fritz, AAPG executive director. "As a result, we had a number of excellent meetings on international development."
There was much applause for the Institut Cartografic de Catalunya as host, and for general chairman Jordi A. Ferrer and the organizing committee for planning and executing the conference in less than 18 months -- a prodigious effort for a meeting of this complexity and size.
The conference offered over 500 technical papers, and the floor plan of the Catalonia Palace of Congresses allowed posters and oral sessions to be situated in close proximity, which attendees found convenient for attending the five concurrent sessions and viewing the 300-plus poster presentations. A total of six pre- and post-meeting field trips were held, as was a full slate of guest tours. A student reception attracted over 150 persons.
Another first at the Barcelona international meeting was an "All Convention Luncheon" featuring John Gibson, president and CEO of the Halliburton Energy Services Group, which was a sell-out (see story on page 14).
In opening the meeting, AAPG President Steve Sonnenberg noted the importance of the international influence on the science, the profession and the association itself, presenting charts and figures that showed how "international membership is growing significantly within AAPG."
The figures showed how international areas comprise 30 percent of AAPG membership; of that total, 33 percent are from the European Region.
International growth, he said, also is outpacing domestic membership growth.
"We are proud to be here," Sonnenberg said of AAPG's first-ever meeting in Spain.
"Clearly, we all know that we face serious obstacles in meeting the world's energy needs," he said, "but that's why we're here, isn't it? To prepare ourselves for the challenges, and for the opportunities, for a world that demands our very best."
Josep Arques, general secretary of public works for the Catalunya government, welcomed delegates at the opening session and noted the importance of geology to society that "plays a very clear, leading role in any action man takes in a territory."
In that context, he also cited the "GeoCampus Catalunya" initiative by the national, regional and local levels of government in cooperation with the University of Barcelona and the Spanish oil companies. The initiative is designed "to boost, coordinate and foster all activities related with research of the high geological value of the Pyrenees region so as to make it a reference center for ‘scientific tourism' and nature," which "will result in a valuable body of information."