How do I become a quantitative interpreter?

TLDR: start doing quantitative interpretation.

I just saw this question on reddit/r/geophysics

I always feel a bit sad when I read this sort of question, which is even more common on LinkedIn, because it reminds me that we (in the energy industry at least) have built recruiting patterns and HR practices that make it look as if professionals have career tracks or have to build CVs to impress people or get permission to train in a new area. This is all wrong.

Or, to be more precise, we can treat this as all wrong and have a lot more fun in the process.

If you are a 'geologist' or 'geophysicist', then you are in control of your own career and what you apply yourself to. No-one is telling you what to do, they are only telling you what they need. How you do it, the methods you apply, the products you build — all this is completely up to you. This is almost the whole point of being a professional.

The replies to Timbledon's question include this one:

I disagree with Schwa88. Poor Timbledon doesn't need another degree. Rock physics is not a market, and not new. There are no linear tracks. And there is no clear or useful distinction between rock physics and quantitative interpretation (or petrophysics, or seismic geophysics) — I bet there are no two self-identifying quantitative interpreters with identical, or even similar, job or educational histories.

As for 'now is not the time'... I can't even... 'Now' is the only time you can do anything about, so work with it.

OK, enough ranting, what should Timbledon do?

It's easy! The best way to pursue quantitative interpretation, or pretty much anything except pediatric cardiology, is to just start doing it. It really is that simple. My advice is to use quantitative methods in every project you touch, and in doing so you will immediately outperform most interpreters. Talk to anyone and everyone about your interest and share your insights. Volunteer for projects. Go to talks. Give talks. To help you find your passion, take the time to learn about some big things:

  • Rock physics, e.g. the difference between static and dynamic elasticity.
  • Seismic processing, e.g. what surface consistent deconvolution and trim statics are.
  • Seismic interpretation, e.g. seismic geomorphology and seismic stratigraphy.
  • Seismic analysis, e.g. the difference between Zoeppritz, Fatti, and Shuey.
  • Statistics, e.g. when you need multilinear regression, or K-means clustering.

Those are just examples. If you're more into X-ray diffraction in clays, or the physics of crystalline rocks, or fluid properties, or wellbore seismic, or time-lapse effects, or whatever — learn about those things instead.

Whatever you do, Timbledon, don't listen to anybody ;)

Units of geological time

I have an exercise in my writing course on scientific units. The last question is about units of geological time, and it always starts a debate. I favour ka, Ma, and Ga for all dates and spans of time, but I've never gone unchallenged. People like Ma BP, mya, m.y., myr, and lots of other things, and I've heard all sorts of rules for when to use which, and why. The sort of rules you can't quite remember the crucial details of.

Twitter isn't for everyone, but I think it has some real strengths — it's a great filter, a reliable connection finder, and a brilliant place to ask questions. So I asked Twitter, and compiled the responses in a storyboard:

The story exposed a useful blog postan attempt to standardize (Aubry et al., 2009, Stratigraphy 6 (2), 100–105], another attempt [Holden et al., 2011, IUPAC–IUGS recommendation], and a firm rebuttal from Nick Christie-Blick. Many thanks to all my Twitter friends — one of whom I've actually met IRL!

Bottom line — there are regional variations and personal preferences. There's no consensus. Make your choice. Write unambiguously.

Ten things I loved about ScienceOnline2012

ScienceOnline logoI spent Thursday and Friday at the annual Science Online unconference at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. I had been looking forward to it since peeking in on—and even participating in—sessions last January at ScienceOnline2011. As soon as I had emerged from the swanky airport and navigated my way to the charmingly peculiar Velvet Cloak Inn I knew the first thing I loved was...

Raleigh, and NC State University. What a peaceful, unpretentious, human-scale place. And the university campus and facilities were beyond first class. I was born in Durham, England, and met my wife at university there, so I was irrationally prepared to have a soft spot for Durham, North Carolina, and by extension Raleigh too. And now I do. It's one of those rare places I've visited and known at once: I could live here. I was still basking in this glow of fondness when I opened my laptop at the hotel and found that the hard drive was doornail dead. So within 12 hours of arriving, I had...

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News of the week

Newsworthy items of the last fortnight or so. We look for stories in the space between geoscience and technology, but if you come across anything you think we should cover, do tell

CNLOPB map of blocksNewfoundland blocks announced

Back in May we wrote about the offshore licensing round in Newfoundland and Labrador on Canada's Atlantic margin. The result was announced on Wednesday. There was no award on the northern blocks. The two parcels in northwest Newfoundland, in the Gulf of St Lawrence, were awarded to local outfit Ptarmigan Energy for a total work commitment of $2.002 million. The winning bids in the Flemish Pass area were won by a partnership of Statoil (at 50%), Chevron (40%) and Repsol (10%). The bids on these parcels were $202,171,394 and $145,603,270. Such arbitrary-looking numbers suggest that there was some characteristically detailed technical assessment going on at Statoil, or that a game theorist got to engineer the final bid. We'd love to know which. 

CanGeoRef for Canadian literature

CanGeoRef is a new effort to bring Canadian geoscience references in from the cold to the AGI's GeoRef bibliographic database. The Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences is coordinating the addition of literature from the Survey, various provincial and territorial agencies, as well as Canadian universities. Better yet, CanGeoRef has a 30-day free trial offer plus a 15% discount if you subscribe before December. 

In related news, the AGI has updated its famous Glossary of Geology, now in its 5th edition. We love the idea, but don't much like the $100 price tag. 

Tibbr at work

Tibbr logoTibbr is a social media engine for the enterprise, a sort of in-house Facebook. Launched in January by TIBCO, it's noteworthy because of TIBCO's experience; they're the company behind Spotfire among other things. It has some interesting features, like videocalling, voicemail integration and analytics (of course), that should differentiate it from competitors like Yammer. What these tools do for teamwork and integration is yet to be seen. 

The 3D world in 3D

Occasionally you see software you can't wait to get your hands on. When Ron Schott posted this video of some mud-cracks, we immediately started thinking of the possibilities for outcrops, hand specimens, SEM photography,... However, the new 123D Catch software from Autodesk only runs on Windows so Matt hasn't been able to test it yet. On the plus side, it's free, for now at least.

To continue the social media thread, Ron is very interested in its role in geoscience. He's an early adopter of Google+, so if you're interested in how these tools might help you, add him to one of your circles or hangout with him. As for us, we're still finding our way in G+.

This regular news feature is for information only. We aren't connected with any of these people or organizations, and don't necessarily endorse their products or services. Unless we say we think they're great.

News of the week

Happy Canada Day! Here is the news.

Scotian basin revivial?

Geologist–reporter Susan Eaton has a nice piece in the AAPG Explorer this month, explaining why some operators still see promise in the Scotian Basin, on Canada's Atlantic margin. The recent play fairway analysis mentioned in the report, however, is long overdue and still not forthcoming. When it is, we hope the CNSOPB and government promoters fully embrace openess and get more data into the public domain.

Yet another social network!

In the wake of LinkedIn's IPO, in which the first day of trading was over 500 times its net earnings in 2010, many other social networks are starting to pop up. Last month we mentioned SEG's new Communities. Finding Petroleum is a new social network, supported by the publishers of the Digital Energy Journal, aimed at oil and gas professionals. These sites are an anti-trust anomaly, since they almost have to be monopolies to succeed, and with so much momemtum carried by LinkedIn and Facebook, new entrants will struggle for attention. Most of the Commmunities in SEG seem to be essentially committee-based and closed, and LinkedIn micro-networks are getting chaotic, so maybe there's a gap here. Our guess is that there isn't.

The oil & gas blogosphere

Companies are increasingly turning to blogging and social media tools to expand their reach and promote their pursuits. Here are a couple of industry blogs that have caught our eye recently. If you are looking to read more about what's happening in subsurface oil and gas technology, these blogs are a good place to start.

If you use a microblogging service like Yammer, you may not know that you can also follow Twitter feeds. For example, here's a Twitter list of various companies in oil & gas.

Job security in geoscience

Historically, the oil and gas industry follows hot and cold (or, if you prefer, boom and bust) cycles, but the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts geoscience jobs will be increasingly in demand. A recent article from The Street reports on these statistics suggesting that the earth science sector is shaping up to be genuinely recession proof. If there is such a thing.

Agile* apps update

We're happy to report that all of Agile's apps have been updated in the last week, and we have a brand new app in the Android Market! The newest app, called Tune*, is a simple calculator for wedge modeling and estimating the amplitude tuning response of thin-beds, as shown here.

In our other apps, the biggest new feature is the ability to save cases or scenarios to a database on the device, so you can pull them up later.

Read more on our Apps page.

This regular news feature is for information only. Apart from Agile*, obviously, we aren't connected with any of these organizations, and don't necessarily endorse their products or services.