A new blog, and a new course

There's a great new geoscience blog on the Internet — I urge you to add it to your blog-reading app or news reader or list of links or whatever it is you use to keep track of these things. It's called Geology and Python, and it contains exactly what you'd expect it to contain!

The author, Bruno Ruas de Pinho, has nine posts up so far, all excellent. The range of topics is quite broad:

In each post, Bruno takes some geoscience challenge — nothing too huge, but the problems aren't trivial either — and then methodically steps through solving the problem in Python. He's clearly got a good quantitative brain, having recently graduated in geological engineering from the Federal University of Pelotas, aka UFPel, Brazil, and he is now available for hire. (He seems to be pretty sharp, so if you're doing anything with computers and geoscience, you should snag him.)


A new course for Calgary

We've run lots of Introduction to Python courses before, usually with the name Creative Geocomputing. Now we're adding a new dimension, combining a crash introduction to Python with a crash introduction to machine learning. It's ambitious, for sure, but the idea is not to turn you into a programmer. We aim to:

  • Help you set up your computer to run Python, virtual environments, and Jupyter Notebooks.
  • Get you started with downloading and running other people's packages and notebooks.
  • Verse you in the basics of Python and machine learning so you can start to explore.
  • Set you off with ideas and things to figure out for that pet project you've always wanted to code up.
  • Introduce you to other Calgarians who love playing with code and rocks.

We do all this wielding geoscientific data — it's all well logs and maps and seismic data. There are no silly examples, and we don't shy away from so-called advanced things — what's the point in computers if you can't do some things that are really, really hard to do in your head?

Tickets are on sale now at Eventbrite, it's $750 for 2 days — including all the lunch and code you can eat.

GeoConvention highlights

We were in Calgary last week at the Canada GeoConvention 2017. The quality of the talks seemed more variable than usual but, as usual, there were some gems in there too. Here are our highlights from the technical talks...

Filling in gaps

Mauricio Sacchi (University of Alberta) outlined a new reconstruction method for vector field data. In other words, filling in gaps in multi-compononent seismic records. I've got a soft spot for Mauricio's relaxed speaking style and the simplicity with which he presents linear algebra, but there are two other reasons that make this talk worthy of a shout out:

  1. He didn't just show equations in his talk, he used pseudocode to show the algorithm.
  2. He linked to his lab's seismic processing toolkit, SeismicJulia, on GitHub.

I am sure he'd be the first to admit that it is early days for for this library and it is very much under construction. But what isn't? All the more reason to showcase it openly. We all need a lot more of that.

Update on 2017-06-7 13:45 by Evan Bianco: Mauricio, has posted the slides from his talk

Learning about errors

Anton Birukov (University of Calgary & graduate intern at Nexen) gave a great talk in the induced seismicity session. It was a lovely mashing-together of three of our favourite topics: seismology, machine-learning, and uncertainty. Anton is researching how to improve microseismic and earthquake event detection by framing it as a machine-learning classification problem. He's using Monte Carlo methods to compute myriad synthetic seismic events by making small velocity variations, and then using those synthetic events to teach a model how to be more accurate about locating earthquakes.

Figure 2 from  Anton Biryukov's abstract . An illustration of the signal classification concept. The signals originating from the locations on the grid (a) are then transformed into a feature space and labeled by the class containing the event origin. From Biryukov (2017). Event origin depth uncertainty - estimation and mitigation using waveform similarity. Canada GeoConvention, May 2017.

Figure 2 from Anton Biryukov's abstract. An illustration of the signal classification concept. The signals originating from the locations on the grid (a) are then transformed into a feature space and labeled by the class containing the event origin. From Biryukov (2017). Event origin depth uncertainty - estimation and mitigation using waveform similarity. Canada GeoConvention, May 2017.

The bright lights of geothermal energy
Matt Hall

Two interesting sessions clashed on Wednesday afternoon. I started off in the Value of Geophysics panel discussion, but left after James Lamb's report from the mysterious Chief Geophysicists' Forum. I had long wondered what went on in that secretive organization; it turns out they mostly worry about how to make important people like your CEO think geophysics is awesome. But the large room was a little dark, and — in keeping with the conference in general — so was the mood.

Feeling a little down, I went along to the Diversification of the Energy Industry session instead. The contrast was abrupt and profound. The bright room was totally packed with a conspicuously young audience numbering well over 100. The mood was hopeful, exuberant even. People were laughing, but not wistfully or ironically. I think I saw a rainbow over the stage.

If you missed this uplifting session but are interested in contributing to Canada's geothermal energy scene, which will certainly need geoscientists and reservoir engineers if it's going to get anywhere, there are plenty of ways to find out more or get involved. Start at cangea.ca and follow your nose.

We'll be writing more about the geothermal scene — and some of the other themes in this post — so stay tuned. 


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Two new short courses in Calgary

We're running two one-day courses in Calgary for the CSPG Spring Education Week. One of them is a bit... weird, so I thought I'd try to explain what we're up to.

Both classes run from 8:30 till 4:00, and both of them cost just CAD 425 for CSPG members. 

Get introduced to Python

The first course is Practical programming for geoscientists. Essentially a short version of our 2 to 3 day Creative geocomputing course, we'll take a whirlwind tour through the Python programming language, then spend the afternoon looking at some basic practical projects. It might seem trivial, but leaving with a machine fully loaded with all the tools you'll need, plus long list of resources and learning aids, is worth the price of admission alone.

If you've always wanted to get started with the world's easiest-to-learn programming language, this is the course you've been waiting for!

Hashtag geoscience

This is the weird one. Hashtag geoscience: communicating geoscience in the 21st century. Join me, Evan, Graham Ganssle (my co-host on Undersampled Radio) — and some special guests — for a one-day sci comm special. Writing papers and giving talks is all so 20th century, so let's explore social media, blogging, podcasting, open access, open peer review, and all the other exciting things that are happening in scientific communication today. These tools will not only help you in your job, you'll find new friends, new ideas, and you might even find new work.

I hope a lot of people come to this event. For one, it supports the CSPG (we're not getting paid, we're on expenses only). Secondly, it'll be way more fun with a crowd. Our goal is for everyone to leave burning to write a blog, record a podcast, or at least create a Twitter account. 


One of our special guests will be young-and-famous geoscience vlogger Dr Chris. Coincidentally, we just interviewed him on Undersampled Radio. Here's the uncut video version; audio will be on iTunes and Google Play in a couple of days:

The hackathon is coming to Calgary

Before you stop reading and surf away thinking hackathons are not for you, stop. They are most definitely for you. If you still read this blog after me wittering on about Minecraft, anisotropy, and Python practically every week — then I'm convinced you'll have fun at a hackathon. And we're doing an new event this year for newbies.

For its fourth edition, the hackathon is coming to Calgary. The city is home to thousands of highly motivated and very creative geoscience nuts, so it should be just as epic as the last edition in Denver. The hackathon will be the weekend before the GeoConvention — 2 and 3 May. The location is the Global Business Centre, which is part of the Telus Convention Centre on 8th Avenue. The space is large and bright; it should be perfect, once it smells of coffee...

Now's the time to carpe diem and go sign up. You won't regret it. 

On the Friday before the hackathon, 1 May, we're trying something new. We'll be running a one-day bootcamp. you can sign up for the bootcamp here on the site. It's an easy, low-key way to experience the technology and goings-on of a hackathon. We'll be doing some gentle introductions to scientific computing for those who want it, and for the more seasoned hackers, we'll be looking at some previous projects, useful libraries, and tips and tricks for building a software tool in less than 2 days.

The event would definitely not be possible without the help of progressive people who want to see more creativity and invention in our industry and our science. These companies and the people that work there deserve your attention. 

Last quick thing: if you know a geeky geoscientist in Calgary, I'd love it if you forwarded this post to them right now. 


UPDATE
Great new: Ikon Science are joining our existing sponsors, dGB Earth Sciences and OpenGeoSolutions — both long-time supporters of the hackathon events — to help make something awesome happen. We're grateful for the support!


UPDATE
More good news: Geomodeling have joined the event as a sponsor. Thank you for being awesome! Wouldn't a geomodel hackathon be fun? Hmm...