It’s good to be reminded of this one simple industry fact:
“As a rule, geologists love to get out in the field to see classic and interesting outcrops that provide a better understanding of depositional facies, hydrocarbon reservoir systems, and anything related to geology.”
That’s AAPG member Mark Longman, this year’s field trip chair for the upcoming AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, set May 31-June 3 in Denver, who believes there’s great value in bringing together thousands of geologists from around the world and turning them loose in such a rich environment.
“They get to see outcrops they might otherwise never get to visit,” he said, alluding to the number of spectacular locales in the area, like the Denver area’s easily accessible Front Range and adjacent Rocky Mountain states, as well as trips in both Utah and Wyoming to name just a few.
Longman said there is ample opportunity to visit “some world-class exposures” that should have something of interest to almost everyone in the geologic community.
But it’s not just the quality of the trips.
True, ACE 2015 offers 12 field trips – a typical number for an ACE gathering – but a big difference for Longman is, as they say in real estate, “location, location, location.”
To him, it’s easy to sing the praises of “the quality of outcrops in the Rocky Mountains near Denver.”
It clearly is a source of pride.
“We here in Colorado are particularly blessed with superb exposures that can provide geological insights and experiences unmatched in many other parts of the country.”
Interested in participating in one – or more?
Easy to do, Longman said. In fact, you can order off the menu or do the buffet. Trips are offered both before and after the meeting.
“The ACE field trips offer something for everyone,” he added, “because the topics to be covered range from gaining insight into the structural geology and depositional history along the Colorado Front Range, to Tertiary (Green River Formation) source rocks in the Uinta Basin.”
Something for Everyone
Longman is a petrographer and staff geologist at QEP, a Denver-based energy company, which means he gets to study rocks anywhere his company is actively exploring.
“I’m provided with a variety of rock material ranging from tiny drill cuttings to continuous cores hundreds of feet long, but even the best of cores provides only a narrow window into the geologic record,” he said. “By integrating the data gleaned from study of cores and cuttings with geologic models developed for outcrops that may extend over several square miles, I try to help improve QEP’s understanding of subsurface geology in order to optimize its success in exploring for and developing a wide range of hydrocarbon reservoirs.”
It is at these conventions where he sees wonderful possibilities.
“They provide me an excellent way,” he said, “for improving my insights and understanding of depositional, structural and diagenetic models for better understanding any reservoir intervals in which QEP may be interested.”
As for the conference, he won’t admit to looking any more forward to one trip than another – and that is the point.
“The success for the field trip program,” he said, “is to offer something for everyone.”
A few of those trips include:
- One led by Peter Hennings and Jon Olson to the outcrops around Casper, Wyo.
- A trip by Tim Ruble, Mike Lewan and others to the Uinta Basin.
- A visit to Florissant fossil beds in central Colorado, led by Herb Meyer.
- Structural geology field trips to the Colorado Front Range led by Eric Erslev and Ned Sterne.
“Paradise,” though, “comes with its own hazards,” he said, which is why safety is stressed for all leaders.
“It’s sad that geologists can’t simply go out into the field to study rocks and at the same time assume responsibility for their own actions,” he said, acknowledging potential trips are sometimes canceled over “simple issues like access to outcrops and potential liability.”
That said, the challenge of planning and leading a field trip remains one of his joys.
“I was filled with concern and apprehension when I was initially volunteered by Donna Anderson to chair the 2015 ACE field trip program,” he said, “but my fears were somewhat alleviated when I drafted Greg Gromadzki to be my co-chair.”
“It was actually rather fun to watch the field trip program evolve and to have many well-known geologists step forward with ideas to lead various trips.”
Professionals from industry and academia, from the classroom and the field all will be sharing their observations, insights and interpretations – so, as it turned out, the difficulty was not finding enough trips, but narrowing them down to a workable number.
“In the end, it proved hard to limit the number of trips to just 12,” he said, “but I fully believe that the program Greg and I put together has something for almost everyone with an interest in getting out into the field to visit some of the best outcrops that the United States has to offer.”