A new AAPG technical interest group is attracting international attention, and the founders hope to continue expanding the group’s influence.
The Salt Basins TIG began in May 2020 as a way for geoscientists in industry and academia working on or interested in salt basins to connect, collaborate and share ideas, according to one of the co-founders, Rachelle Kernen of the AAPG Women’s Network.
Interest in the group was “immediate,” Kernen said.
The group’s focus is on fundamental and applied aspects of salt-influenced sedimentary basins from salt deposition to tectonics and dissolution.
“The ultimate goal of the Salt Basins TIG is to unite academia and industry, diversify our field (people and research topics), and to create a scientifically inclusive environment for leading experts in salt tectonics to collaborate and thrive,” said Kernen.
Other co-founders include Tim Shin, exploration geoscientist at Total E&P Americas; Clara Rodriguez, regional exploration manager and salt tectonics specialist for Petronas Mexico; Clara Abu, geoscientist for Schlumberger; and Leonardo Muniz Pichel, Imperial College postdoctoral researcher.
Webinars and Other Activities
The group hosts webinars every two weeks, with a different speaker and the five co-founders, who relay questions to the speaker from the online audience.
The webinars typically last an hour to an hour and 15 minutes and have featured speakers from academia and industry. They have routinely attracted 120 to 180 participants joining in from around the world.
Past webinars can be viewed on YouTube by searching AAPG Salt Basins Technical Interest Group.
The TIG is also planning to begin a mentoring program aiming to match an expert with three or four individuals to help them explore future opportunities both in the science and their careers.
Future plans also include field trips, podcasts and in-person conferences, perhaps beginning in 2022, Kernen said.
Papers are being solicited for a special issue of the AAPG Bulletin emphasizing salt basins. About 10 potential authors have already contacted the group, said Kernen.
A survey is planned to gauge interest in the group and future direction and topics.
Co-founders can be contacted by email at [email protected], Twitter at @aapgsaltbasins, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Information on the group is also available on AAPG’s website.
Impact and Widening Interest
Kernen said virtual webinars have helped increase AAPG membership because the potential participants are scattered around the globe.
“The COVID-19 pandemic allowed us to come together because people have become more comfortable with virtual learning and presenting,” she said.
Kernen said she was glad to be able to continue to contribute to the greater salt community through the new TIG.
“I feel like I have some purpose … I have been able to connect to the greater salt community with this new experience,” she said.
While much of her interest in salt basins has involved research in the Gulf of Mexico and Australia, Kernen said other salt basins are equally important around the world in places like the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, offshore Canada, Brazil, West Africa, the Mediterranean Sea and more. Fundamental and pivotal science is occurring in salt basins around the world yet cross-collaboration and access to that global knowledge has been challenging until now, she explained.
In addition to exploration, salt basin research has expanded into carbon/hydrogen capture/storage and geothermal exploration.
Kernen said one main goal of the group is to diversify the people involved in the research and that, in turn, will help diversify and improve the science and hopefully the membership of AAPG.
“Geoscientists tend to stick together. You usually have a handful of ‘go-to’ people. We’re trying to diversify that and provide opportunities for historically underrepresented individuals,” she said. “As we showcase the diversity of underrepresented ideas, we increase the diversity and collaboration of technical ideas which will propel the science of salt basins forward.”