- Copyright © 2004 Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Editor's note: This article is the first of two parts that together form an abbreviated version of the Fall 2004 SEG/AAPG Distinguished Lecture. A PowerPoint presentation of this material is posted on the SEG Web site.
“The winds of change” refer to much more than just anisotropic rocks whose seismic anisotropy provides insight into horizontal permeability anisotropy. The way we view our planet is changing. The planet is now being studied as the interaction of four interlocking systems—the hydro-sphere, the atmosphere, the lithosphere, and the biosphere—as all absorb energy from our sun and change. The planet and all its subsystems, like geology or climate, are explicitly evaluated as interdependent and interacting within the context of the local community. The heterogeneity at the surface of our planet and the recycling of compounds and elements (water, nitrogen, sulfur, etc.) enable our planet to support life.
My earth science career has spanned two revolutions: the plate-tectonic revolution during the 1970s, and today's profound reevaluation of “how our planet works” and our roles as planet-dwellers.
The rocks that are the primary focus of most of our studies are best understood as, firstly, the result of the interactions of the climate, the water conditions, the depositional setting, the biosphere, and the provenance of the sediments, and secondly, the lithification and geologic history they have undergone. The biosphere shows up in our rocks both as fossils (a key means of dating rocks!) and as liquid or solid organic remains. We understand any given stratigraphic facies in the context of its spatial neighbors—its community—and its plate-tectonic setting. The climate includes the actions of gravity, sunlight, and atmosphere, but it is affected by where the land masses are and how they are linked together. Oil industry geoscientists are uniquely placed, via access to important data and sophisticated tools, …