Hacking logs

Over the weekend, 6 intrepid geologist-geeks gathered in a coworking space in the East Downtown area of Houston. With only six people, I wasn't sure we could generate the same kind of creative buzz we had at the geophysics hackathon last September. But sitting with other geoscientists and solving problems with code works at any scale. 

The theme of the event was 'Doing cool things with log data'. There were no formal teams and no judging round. Nonetheless, some paired up in loose alliances, according to their interests. Here's a taste of what we got done in 2 days...

Multi-scale display

Jacob Foshee and Ben Bougher worked on some JavaScript to display logs with the sort of adaptive scrolling feature you often see on finance sites for displaying time series. The challenge was to display not just one log with its zoomed version, but multiple logs at multiple scales — and ideally core photos too. They got the multiple logs, though not yet at multiple scales, and they got the core photo. The example (right) shows some real logs from Panuke, a real core photo from the McMurray, and a fake synthetic seismogram. 

Click on the image for a demo. And the code is all open, all the way. Thanks guys for an awesome effort!

Multi-scale log attributes

Evan and Mark Dahl (ConocoPhillips) — who was new to Python on Friday — built some fascinating displays (right). The idea was to explore stratigraphic stacking patterns in scale space. It's a little like spectral decomposition for 1D data. They averaged a log at a range of window sizes, increasing exponentially (musicians and geophysicists know that scale is best thought of in octaves). Then they made a display that ranges from short windows on the left-hand side to long ones on the right. Once you get your head around what exactly you're looking at here, you naturally want to ask questions about what these gothic-window patterns mean geologically (if anything), and what we can do with them. Can we use them to help train a facies classifier, for example? [Get Evan's code]

Facies from logs

In between running for tacos, I worked on computing grey-level co-occurence matrices (GLCMs) for logs, which are a prerequisite for computing certain texture attributes. Why would anyone do this? We'd often like to predict facies from well logs; maybe log textures (spiky vs flat, upwards-fining vs barrel-shaped) can help us discriminate facies better. [Download my IPython Notebook]

Wassim Benhallam (of Lisa Stright's Rocks to Models lab at University of Utah) worked on machine learning algorithms for computing facies from core. He started pursuing self-organizing maps as an interesting line of attack, and plans to use MATLAB to get something working. I hope he tells us how it goes!

We didn't have a formal contest at this event, but our friend Maitri Erwin was kind enough to stop by with some excellent wine and her characteristically insightful and inquisitive demeanour. After two days rattling around with nothing but geeks and tacos for company, she provided some much-needed objectivity and gave us all good ideas about how to develop our efforts in the coming weeks. 

We'll be doing this again in Denver this autumn, some time around the SEG Annual Meeting. If it appeals to your creativity — maybe there's a tool you've always wished for — why not plan to join us?  

As I get around to it, I'll be dumping more info and pictures over on the wiki

A long weekend of creative geoscience computing

The Rock Hack is in three weeks. If you're in Houston, for AAPG or otherwise, this is going to be a great opportunity to learn some new computer skills, build some tools, or just get some serious coding done. The Agile guys — me, Evan, and Ben — will be hanging out at START Houston, laptops open, all say 5 and 6 April, about 8:30 till 5. The breakfast burritos and beers are on us.

Unlike the geophysics hackathon last September, this won't be a contest. We're going to try a more relaxed, unstructured event. So don't be shy! If you've always wanted to try building something but don't know where to start, or just want to chat about The Next Big Thing in geoscience or technology — please drop in for an hour, or a day.

Here are some ideas we're kicking around for projects to work on:

  • Sequence stratigraphy calibration app to tie events to absolute geologic time and to help interpret systems tracts.
  • Wireline log 'attributes'.
  • Automatic well-to-well correlation.
  • Facies recognition from core.
  • Automatic photomicrograph interpretation: grain size, porosity, sorting, and so on.
  • A mobile app for finding and capturing data about outcrops.
  • An open source basin modeling tool.

Short course

If you feel like a short course would get you started faster, then come along on Friday 4 April. Evan will be hosting a 1-day course, leading you through getting set up for learning Python, learning some syntax, and getting started on the path to scientific computing. You won't have super-powers by the end of the day, but you'll know how to get them.

Eventbrite - Agile Geocomputing

The course includes food and drink, and lots of code to go off and play with. If you've always wanted to get started programming, this is your chance!

Rock Hack 2014

We're hosting another hackathon! This time, we're inviting geologists in all their colourful guises to come and help dream up cool tools, find new datasets, and build useful stuff. Mark your calendar: 5 & 6 April, right before AAPG.

On 4 April there's the added fun of a Creative geocomputing course. So you can learn some skills, then put them into practice right away. More on the course next week.

What's a hackathon?

It's not as scary — or as illegal — as it sounds! And it's not just for coders. It's just a roomful of creative geologists and friendly programmers figuring out two things together:

  1. What tools would help us in our work?
  2. How can we build those tools?

So for example, we might think about problems like these:

  • A sequence stratigraphy calibration app to tie events to absolute geologic time
  • Wireline log 'attributes'
  • Automatic well-to-well correlation
  • Facies recognition from core
  • Automatic photomicrograph interpretation: grain size, porosity, sorting, and so on
  • A mobile app for finding and capturing data about outcrops
  • Sedimentation rate analysis, accounting for unconformities, compaction, and grain size

I bet you can think of something you'd like to build — add it to the list!

Still not sure? Check out what we did at the Geophysics Hackathon last autumn...

How do I sign up?

You can sign up for the creative geocomputing course at Eventbrite.

If you think Rock Hack sounds like a fun way to spend a weekend, please drop us a line or sign up at Hacker League. If you're not sure, please come anyway! We love visitors.

If you think you know someone who'd be up for it, let them know with the sharing buttons below.

The poster image is from an original work by Flickr user selkovjr.