3D Structural Geologic Interpretation: Earth, Mind, and Machine
AAPG Hedberg Research Conference organized through the AAPG Research Committee
- Bob Krantz
- ConocoPhillips, Houston, TX
- Carol Ormand
- Carleton College, MN
- Brett Freema
- Badley Geoscience Ltd, Hundleby, UK
23-27 June 2013, Reno, Nevada USA
By design, the conference provided an opportunity for cognitive scientists, academic geologists, E&P company interpreters and trainers, and software developers to gather, share knowledge, and identify opportunities for further collaboration.
- Help industry interpreters recognize the importance of 3D spatial skills in geoscience thinking and interpretation and apply this to maximize efficiency in their own interpreting and importantly, to train newly-hired interpreters.
- Ensure that the academic research community has a clearer understanding of the extent to which industry interpreters require and employ 3D spatial skills and to recognize that different skills might be required by unique aspects of subsurface interpretation, facilitating and motivating their own spatial cognition research.
- Help software developers recognize the importance of designing interpretation software that is compatible with the cognitive demands of 3D spatial thinking and facilitates 3D visualization of data.
- Encourage cognitive scientists, academic geologists, E&P company interpreters and trainers, and software developers to share knowledge, and identify opportunities for further collaboration.
Industry geoscientists face growing challenges in building subsurface interpretations, due to increasing geologic complexity, the importance of subtle details, or both. Conventional reservoirs now include components difficult to image or interpret. Unconventional reservoirs may at first look simple and homogeneous, but have subtle expression of key elements.
Developing effective interpreters requires significant personal and company resources, and has traditionally focused on geologic concepts and software. Successful and productive interpreters emerge more through chance and self-motivation, and commonly struggle when learning to integrate geologic models and interpretation tools in real data volumes.
Spatial cognitive skills have been recognized as a distinct class of intellectual skills, with various subsets and individual skill types. More recently, spatial cognitive skill research has been applied to the geosciences, and to developing effective methods for teaching basic and advanced geology concepts.
This conference provided an opportunity for bridging the gap between industry, academia, cognitive researchers and software vendors, and for enhancement of E&P interpretation strategies and tools, critical skill development, and supporting training methods and resources. Much of the academic geologic world is at least aware of spatial cognitive skill science, and many professors include adapted pedagogical strategies. The conveners represented these different groups, and additional theme leaders were selected to encourage integration.
Broadly speaking, structural interpretation includes any subsurface geologic form, whether derived from deformation or deposition. In all cases, recognizing and interpreting these forms requires 3D thinking and application of geologic knowledge, enabled by effective tools and techniques. Visualization has often been used in industry in reference to software, especially for interrogating and interpreting 3D seismic. While a key component of this conference, we hoped to emphasize more complete mental visualization that enables true understanding and integration of geologic concepts and models.
The technical conference began on Monday, June 24, with 3 days of non-parallel sessions of oral and poster presentations, discussions and breakouts, and a group field trip on Tuesday, June 25, to the Hat Creek Fault Zone in northern California. The conference concluded on Thursday, June 27.
The Conference was held in Reno, Nevada, which combines ease of access, attractive culture and sight-seeing, and proximity to the outstanding outcrops of the Hat Creek Fault Zone, with world-class exposure of trap-scale fault geometries. A full-day field trip provided an opportunity to collaborate on the interpretation process. A synthetic 3D seismic volume, based on Hat Creek, allowed for direct extrapolation to software and digital interpretation.
The program was split into several sessions corresponding to the themes listed below:
- The Need for Geologic Spatial Thinking
- Spatial Cognitive Skill Science
- Applied Geologic Cognitive Skills
- The Subsurface Geologic Interpretation Mission
- Geologic Visualization
- Teaching 3D Geologic Thinking and Interpretation
- 3D Interpretation Strategies
- Next Generation Interpretation Tools
- 3D Geologic Skill Development and Training