The Tulsa Geological Society and the AAPG Mid-Continent Section enthusiastically celebrates the success of the Oct. 3-5 annual convention in Tulsa. The Mid-Continent Section meeting showcased what Oklahoma geologists like: oil field history and local lore, Native American culture, combined with their beloved Pennsylvanian subsurface plays. The winning formula attracted attendance beyond post- pandemic expectations; more than 400 in-person attendees.
“We had great energy at the Mid-Continent convention,” reported Tara Benda, MCS 2021 convention general chair. “We have received highly positive feedback on the convention from attendees, vendors and sponsors on the technical program. The attendees were genuinely excited to be able to meet in person again and interact with their fellow geologists.”
“Tulsa Geological Society is celebrating its 101st year as a technical society,” said Shane Matson, TGS president. “In 1920, TGS was founded when demand for oil was increasing, (which) led to the discovery of Giant Burbank Field and established Tulsa as a powerhouse in exploration, refining and banking.”
“Shane Matson and Joel Donohue did an outstanding job on the Sponsorship Committee, attracting over 25 sponsors for the convention during very challenging times in the industry,” said Benda. “Kristie Ferguson, as the exhibits chair, sold out all the booths in the Exhibit Hall. We had to move a number of the booths out into the foyer. MCS thanks corporate sponsors Osage Minerals Council, Advanced Hydrocarbon Stratigraphy, Laredo Petroleum, Sage Natural Resources and many others for their support.”
“The Mid-Continent Convention team also included technical program co-chairs Amy Close and Tim Phillips; oral session co-chairs Drew Thomas and Joe Wicker; Poster Chair Sarah Darby; Field Trip Chair and Section President Jamie Woolsey, Entertainment Chair Whitney Landress and Website Chair Taylor Landress,” Benda added.
Osage Nation Contribution
Benda and Matson co-hosted the opening session. Oklahoma was in Indian Territory at the birth of the oil industry, and in observance of that, the Osage Minerals Council, a major sponsor for the convention, provided a moving cultural experience. The Osage singers performed at the opening session and awards ceremony. Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Osage Minerals Council Chairman Everett Wallace addressed the audience, and Osage Minerals Councilman Tallee Redcorn sang the Lord’s Prayer with Osage princesses performing sign language.
AAPG President Gretchen Gillis spoke at the convention about the possible merger between AAPG and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
The All-Convention Luncheon featured a fantastic presentation by Scott Tinker on “The Coming Energy Decade and the Role for Geoscientists.” Tinker’s presentation demonstrated that oil and gas will continue to be a critical component in the energy sphere and, in his words, “Never apologize for what we do - which is to provide reliable and cheap energy to the world.”
Technical Program Highlights
MCS hosted technical sessions focusing on learning from the past, including the session, “One Hundred Years of Discovery: Giant Fields of the Mid-Continent and the Geological History of the Mid Continent, and the Anadarko Super Basin,” co-chaired by AAPG Past President Rick Fritz.
There were also the sessions, “the Sed/Strat, Structure and Tectonics,” and “Conventional and Unconventional Plays of the Mid-Continent.”
Technical sessions also addressed issues that will shape the future of the industry, including a special session on climate change, “Practicalities of Energy Evolution, and the Future Energy Mix,” energy minerals, alternate resources, CCUS and data analytics and machine learning. The poster sessions reflected the same diversity of content as the oral sessions.
The Mid-Continent Section meeting field trips offered adventure and fun while learning more about the geology of northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas. Field trip participants enjoyed mountain biking along Mississippian outcrops in scenic northwest Arkansas, cruising around beautiful Skiatook Lake near Tulsa in pontoon boats, studying the depositional complexities of very well-exposed upper Pennsylvanian fluvial-dominated deltaic outcrops along the lakeshore. They learned more about a Cherokee platform transgressive sequence in a spectacular road cut and hiking in the lovely Redbud Nature Preserve near Tulsa.
Networking and Entertainment
The MCS rolled out the informal theme, “Make it Fun Again.” Networking events put the fun into action, thanks to Whitney Campbell, the entertainment chair. The Sunday night post-icebreaker “Rocktoberfest” at Fassler Hall was a particular hit with many attendees. The fun continued with a tour of Pearl District breweries on Saturday night and Monday evening festivities, including alumni receptions, outdoor dinner and a performance of the Jammin’ Geos with lots of great beer, food and geo-camaraderie
“As the Mid-Continent oil and gas industry begins to rebound from the past couple of years of challenges, this meeting was a chance to reconnect with our friends and colleagues, shake some dust off and embrace new ideas,” said Benda.
The Mid-Continent Section has a fierce pride when reflecting on its past.
“We study the past to understand the present,” added Matson. “As Earth scientists, we have a lot of work ahead. A growing human population depends upon our optimism, ideas and success. Let’s go get it!”
“All in all, I think – and many echoed – that the 2021 AAPG Mid-Continent Section Convention in Tulsa was a very successful convention, with an excellent technical program, outstanding support from sponsors and exhibitors, and an awesome turnout of attendees!” said Benda at the close of the event.
Editor’s note: Tara Benda, Mid-Continent Section meeting general chair, contributed to the writing of this article.