An Energy Odyssey of Technical Sessions, Short Courses and Field Trips

Title: An Energy Odyssey of Technical Sessions, Short Courses and Field Trips

Authors: Donna Anderson and Terri Olson

Publication: The Outcrop, May/June 2001, p. 7-9

The 2001 national AAPG/SEPM convention provides the RMAG member an opportunity to journey into a worldwide odyssey of energy. Eight themes cover the essence of technical sessions, short courses and field trips: business, opportunity and vision; environment; technology; gas; petroleum systems; depositional systems and sequence stratigraphy; reservoir geology and characterization; and structure and tectonics. A special pre-meeting symposium on future trends in sedimentary geology, organized by Paul Weimer, is being held in honor of the 75th anniversary of SEPM.

Technical Sessions

With over 1000 papers scheduled for presentation, the technical sessions at the national AAPG/SEPM convention may seem to be slightly overwhelming. Papers covering the eight convention themes are almost evenly split between oral and poster (half-day) sessions. In addition, a trial venue, the interactive ePoster, provides a cross between conventional oral and poster sessions. So what’s in it for the RMAG member?

Gas, a major theme of the convention, is a topic that has flared in importance in the Rockies over the past year. One session targeted directly at the Rockies and scheduled for Tuesday (oral in the afternoon and poster in the morning) is “Gas in the Rockies,” which is being co-sponsored by the Rocky mountain Section of AAPQ. A session on coalbed methane, sponsored by the Energy Minerals Division of AAPG, is scheduled for Monday morning. A poster session scheduled for Monday afternoon, titled “The Wide World of Natural Gas,” contains a paper on Siberia Ridge field. Besides papers specifically oriented toward the geographic region of the Rockies, many sessions in the Gas theme will be of comparative interest for RMAG members.

A special core-poster session co-sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Section of AAPG, “Rocky Mountain Reservoirs,” is being held on Monday and Tuesday in the lobby of the Denver Convention Center. These posters will be presented with core; here is your chance to see productive reservoirs and pick the authors’ brains! Papers in another special format, the interactive ePoster, held next to the conventional posters in Exhibit Hall C, feature many of the hydrocarbon habitats of the Rockies. Be sure to drop by.

Aside from sessions targeted directly at the Rockies, numerous sessions in the sedimentary geology, reservoir characterization, structure/tectonics, and petroleum systems themes contain papers on the Rockies. A strategy for searching out such specific papers is to use the searchable CD-ROM of abstracts that you will receive in your convention bag. Searching on keywords such as a particular state, basin or formation will help you find papers covering specific geographic areas in the Rockies.

Short Courses

A variety of short courses is being offered in conjunction with the AAPG convention; most are being held before the meeting. The RMAG is sponsoring several courses, two of which involve hands-on work with rocks. After a long hiatus in offering, a short course on trace fossils in an integrated context using examples from the Cretaceous of the Western Interior Seaway is being taught by Jim MacEachern. Also sure to be popular is a core workshop on tight-gas fluvial reservoirs of the Lance Formation of the Green River Basin taught by John Robinson and Keith Shanley. This course features cores from Jonah Field, among others.

Other RMAG-sponsored short courses cover the topics of basin-centered gas systems, petroleum systems, exploration in mature basins, and fold-thrust belts. Basin-Centered Gas Systems is being taught by Ben Law, who also convened the highly successful Basin-Centered Gas Symposium for the RMAG last Fall (2000), and Ron Surdam, another well-known expert in basin-centered gas. A Petroleum Systems Approach to Resource Assessment short course is being presented by Debra Higely and Michele Bishop, both of whom have been working a long time on assessing parts of the U.S. and the world for the U.S. Geological Survey. They have enlisted a stellar group of speakers for that course. A short course on Surface Exploration for Oil and Gas in Mature Basins is being given by Deet Shumacher. Deitrich Roeder and Steve Boyer are lined up to give a short course on the petroleum potential, setting and geodynamics of fold-thrust belts in the world.

Early registration numbers show that other popular courses include: Office 2000 for the Geoscience Professional, Coalbed Methane—From Prospect to Production, Structural and Stratigraphic Interpretation of Borehole-Imaging Logs, Deep-water Sands—Integrated Seismic Analysis, and the NPR-Alaska Core Workshop (to be held post-meeting). On another good note, student registration for short courses is quite high, which is a good sign for the future of our profession.

Field Trips

Field trips offered before, during, and after this year’s annual convention take advantage of Denver’s location in the midst of great Rocky Mountain exposures. Early registration has been brisk for many of the trips—6 of the 18 were sold out by early April. Many of the offerings represent new collaborations between leaders, which field trips chairmen Mark Sonnenfeld and John Webb expect to lead to great discussions on the outcrop.

RMAG is sponsoring four field trips in conjunction with the convention. One of these, a four day trip to visit classic foreland structures in Wyoming, is an example of one such new collaboration. Leaders from Colorado School of Mines, Phillips Petroleum, and Colorado State University will guide the sojourn to Wyoming. Other trips sponsored by RMAG include half-day trips to Dinosaur Ridge in the foothills adjacent to Denver, one of which is geared to spouses and children. Another RMAG/RMS-AAPG trip has proven popular: “Traverse the Colorado Front Range” led by Ned Sterne and Robert Raynolds. The latter two trips sold out early, but have been enlarged so spots are still available.

The Denver Basin field trip represents another new collaboration that examines the petroleum system, sequence stratigraphy, reservoir compartmentalization, and geophysics. Robert Weimer, Frank Ethridge, and colleagues, from CSM, CSU, and Texaco, were persuaded to lead one more foray into this area rich in information about source, reservoir, and seal rocks in relation to trap formation. Space was still available at press time for this one day trip immediately following the convention.

Five of the planned field trips had to be cancelled before convention pre-registration closed. The trip to national parks and monuments of the Colorado Plateau was cancelled due to insufficient registration to meet early deadlines for accommodations in the parks. Other cancelled trips include the DEG venture to investigate resource development and infrastructure in harmony with the environment. Also cancelled was the trip to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Rocky Mountain Arsenal to investigate alternative energy research and transformation of a chemical weapons plant into a wildlife refuge. Finally, the canyon country trip to investigate the geology of Glen Canyon and Rainbow Bridge was also cancelled.

Other trips that should be of interest to the Denver community include: 1) the WGA-sponsored trip “Sequence stratigraphy, dolomitized reservoirs and breccia styles of the lower Mississippian Madison Formation, Wyoming”, led by Mark Sonnenfeld and Taury Smith; 2) the RMS/SEPM sponsored trip, “Stratigraphy, Facies Architecture, Paleoecology, Paleogeography and Reservoir Characteristics of the Salt Wash member of the Morrison Formation, Central Utah”, led by Gus Gustason; and 3) the AAPG-sponsored trip “Sequence Stratigraphy Revealed by Cretaceous Outcrops of the Western Interior: Ferron Sandstone, Fall River Formation, and Muddy Sandstone (Utah, Wyoming, and South Dakota)”, led by Mike Gardner.

Trips that sold out early include Grand Canyon geology; coalbed methane of the Raton Basin; carbonate reservoir producibility in the Paradox Basin; Book Cliffs sedimentology; sequence stratigraphy and basin evolution of the Green River Formation in the Uinta and Washakie Basins; and the Student Chapter trip to view foreland basin reservoir rocks and structural traps.

For details about timing, content, cost, and leadership of any of the field trips, please refer to the 2001 AAPG Annual Convention brochure, or go to the website (