In Memoriam: John (Jack) Parker

Title: In Memoriam: John (Jack) Parker
Authors: Lou Bortz, Mike Johnson, Bob Berg
Publication: The Outcrop, July 2005, p. 10-11

The geological profession lost a legend on May 10, 2005, when Jack died in Dana Point, California. He was an explorer, successful oil finder, eminent expert witness and a crusader against bad science.

Jack Parker was born in September of 1920, in Manhattan, Kansas. He attended Kansas State University and was awarded the B.S. degree in geology in 1941. He also completed graduate courses at the University of Minnesota and the University of Wyoming.

After a short period with the Kansas Highway Commission, he worked with U.S. Public Roads Administration on the Alaska Highway. He then did fieldwork on the Canol Project with Imperial Oil Ltd. in the Northwest Territories of Canada. In 1944, he joined Stanolind Oil and Gas Company and became district geologist, with assignments ranging from Louisiana to Montana. In 1952, Jack joined Kirby Petroleum Company as manager of the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast operations, and in 1967 he became vice president-exploration for Northwest Exploration Company. In 1975, he began geological consulting in Denver.

During this time, he gained broad experience in many geologic provinces from the Gulf Coast through the Rocky Mountain basins to the northern reaches of Canada. He also explored areas outside of North America, including Ecuador, the United Kingdom North Sea, and Jamaica.

Jack served his profession in many ways. He was president of the AAPG in 1982-1983 and is past-president of the Billings Geological Society, Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, and the Rocky Mountain Section of AAPG. Numerous AAPG committees have benefited from his counsel: the House of Delegates, Research Committee, Technical Program Committee (Houston), Strategic Committee in Public Affairs, Publications Committee, and the Petroleum Resource Appraisal Project. Jack was also proud of being a founding staff member of the Fairview Institute of Science, a boyhood group in Manhattan, Kansas.

He has been honored for his achievements by the Explorer of the Year Award from the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, the Distinguished Service in Geology Award from Kansas State University, and by the Honorary Member Award from the AAPG, RMAG, and the Montana Geological Society.

His work opened new areas for exploration, and significant field discoveries directly credited to him include both stratigraphic and structural traps. Highlights of Parker’s significant work projects and oil and gas discoveries where he had a major role are:

1942 – Part of a group that helped design a bridge across the Peace River on the Alaska Highway.

1943 – First person to explore the Mountain River, a tributary of the Mackenzie River, NWT, Canada; mapped the geology, staked a wildcat (dryhole), the Canol Project.

1946-1947 – Numerous discoveries in the Anadarko Basin – Golden trend, Springer trend, and Eola deep complex (120 million BO).

1949 – Roosevelt Field, Uintah County, Utah; found oil in fractured dolostones in the Green River Formation (168 million BOE).

1947-1951 – Canyon Creek (pre-Tertiary), Middle Mountain and Trail Gas fields, Green River Basin (60 million BOE).

1947-1951 – North Fork and Sherwood Oil fields, Powder River Basin (26 million BOE).

1947-1951 – Cottonwood Creek, Big Horn Basin; first carbonate stratigraphic trap conceived and successfully, drilled in the Rocky Mountain province (115 million BOE).

1964 – West Side Canal Field, Green River Basin (55 million BOE).

1972 – Minas Yuturi Field, Oriente Province, Equador (150+ million BO).

1972-1973 – Minas Tiputini and Tivacuno fields, Oriente Province, Equador (360+ million BOE).

1976 – Trap Springs Oil Field Nevada, on a Filon prospect, Jack recognized the potential and Northwest Exploration drilled the discovery well (20+ million BO).

1976 – MonDak Field, Williston Basin (40 million BOE).

Throughout his career, Jack advocated integration of all of the parts of our science in the search for oil and gas: specifically putting together all of the surface, subsurface and geophysical data to make an interpretation. “Seismic data must be thought of in terms of rocks,” according to Jack.

Jack is survived by his children, Susan, Becky, Deidre, and John, plus his sister, Betty Gunter, and several grandchildren.

Jack lived life to the fullest and fine wine was always ordered at lunch or dinner. Many of you who read this will remember a lunch or dinner with Jack when he ordered a $40 bottle of wine while the rest of the group had a taste and budget for a local beer.

We have lost a legend, but his geological ideas and accomplishments will remain an inspiration to our profession.

Lou Bortz
Mike Johnson
Bob Berg