March 2011

Technology integration, resource frontiers to headline AAPG 2011

Geoscience professionals will gather to discuss groundbreaking applications from deep water to deep space.


Nell Lukosavich, Senior Editor

The Annual Convention and Exhibition of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists brings together an international mix of professionals to discuss the latest technical and conceptual advances in the field of geosciences. This year’s show, themed “Making the next giant leap in geosciences,” celebrates a historic milestone marked by 2011: the 50th anniversary of US President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 speech announcing the mission to place a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In keeping with that theme, a luncheon on the event’s first day will feature a panel discussion by four geoscience-trained space travelers representing six decades of history at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Presentations in this year’s technical program will discuss several pertinent topics within the industry, including challenging resource frontiers, advancements in deepwater and shale gas reservoirs, and the integration of new technology, geophysics and subsurface data.

The show will be held April 10–13 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. AAPG puts on a highly technical conference including 382,000 sq ft of exhibition space, more than 400 technical presentations and panel discussions, a series of luncheons and networking opportunities, as well as field trips and short courses.

More than 6,000 people from 76 countries visited AAPG 2010, which was held in New Orleans, La. More than 250 international exhibitors are expected at this year’s conference.

What’s new. For the first time ever, AAPG 2011 will feature more than 400 electronic “e-posters” in addition to the conference’s abundant selection of traditional paper posters. An e-poster is an on-demand electronic version of a traditional poster displayed in a brief PowerPoint presentation. These presentations include audio narration similar to the 5–10-minute overviews often given live by authors at their physical posters, but with the added benefits of animation and video segments presented on a large screen in convenient e-poster stations. E-posters will be available for viewing by any attendee each day of the convention by selecting the desired presentation from a computer directory.

In line with this year’s theme celebrating the role of geosciences within NASA, there are several opportunities at AAPG 2011 to experience all things aerospace. Aside from the astronaut panel at the All-Convention Luncheon, a special field trip on Saturday, April 9, will take attendees to the Johnson Space Center. Apollo 17 moonwalker Dr. Harrison H. “Jack” Schmitt and space shuttle geoscientist Dr. James F. Reilly II will guide the tour, which will take attendees behind the scenes of operations at NASA. More information about this and other conference field trips is available at

In addition, the AAPG-associated Society for Sedimentary Geology business meeting and luncheon on Tuesday, April 12, will feature a discussion on petroleum potential of the Red Planet. Titled “The search for source rocks on Mars,” the talk by Caltech geosciences professor John P. Grotzinger will focus on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), due to launch in 2011. The probe will seek to assess the present and past habitability of the Martian rock record, including detection and characterization of accumulations of organic matter and preservation of potential biomarkers. Grotzinger is the chief scientist for the MSL Rover mission, and a member of both the Mars Exploration Rover science team and the HiRISE camera imaging team on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Opening session and awards ceremony. This year’s show will kick off with a welcome session, followed by the presentation of the AAPG Awards. ConocoPhillips’ Stephen Levine, general chair of the convention organizing committee, will lead the opening multimedia presentation, which will feature the year’s highlights in the geological/geophysical industry and AAPG, followed by an address by AAPG President David Rensink.

 The AAPG Awards ceremony honors professionals who have achieved significant contributions to the geological/geophysical profession. AAPG’s highest honor—the Sidney Powers Memorial Award—will be presented this year to John W. Shelton, the namesake of the association’s John W. Shelton Search and Discovery Award, for his 60-year career as a geologist, researcher and Oklahoma State University professor.

Shelton was an early developer of the concepts of sedimentary petrology and depositional environments for petroleum exploration, and at Shell Research was among the first to apply depositional environments to petroleum prospect definition. He also was a pioneer in multiclient studies and took lead roles on major projects in the North Sea, North Africa, the Mediterranean and China with Erico and later Masera. In the early 1990s, Shelton planned and implemented AAPG Datapages, the association’s digital library and publishing program.

Another honoree this year is Daniel L. Smith, exploration vice president for Sandalwood Oil and Gas and independent geologist, who is also a former AAPG president and a continuing presence in association activities. Smith will receive the Michel T. Halbouty Outstanding Leadership Award, given in recognition of exceptional leadership in the petroleum geosciences. Seventeen other awards will be presented at the ceremony, to a total of 40 individuals.

Themed luncheons. The themed luncheons at AAPG 2011 will focus on timely industry topics, including the role of environmental geosciences and  the challenges to US energy security and economic growth. The All-Convention Luncheon on Monday, April 11, is a tribute to the pioneering efforts of NASA geoscientist-astronauts. Titled “Taking geoscience to greater heights: American geoscientists in space,” the luncheon will feature a prestigious panel of four NASA astronauts: Schmitt, Reilly, Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan and Dr. Andrew J. Feustel. 

The Energy Minerals Division (EMD) Luncheon on Tuesday, April 12, focuses on the opportunities—and challenges—of future energy security and the role of renewable energy resources. John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil Company and founder of the nonprofit association Citizens for Affordable Energy in Washington, D.C., will be the key speaker at the luncheon, titled, “Hydrocarbon opportunities must trump their challenges.” Hofmeister will discuss the role of politics and government in achieving US national security, economic competitiveness, environmental sustainability and lifestyle freedom.

The Division of Professional Affairs and AAPG Professional Women in Earth Sciences (PROWESS) Luncheon, titled “America’s energy realities and opportunities,” will also be held on April 12. This is a new event for the AAPG annual convention. The PROWESS committee aims to increase participation and advancement of women in earth sciences and the energy industry, with an emphasis on education, outreach, support, leadership development and, ultimately, retention. Speaker Karen Alderman Harbert, president and chief executive of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, will discuss specific policy recommendations for a constructive energy US agenda.

The final luncheon at AAPG 2011, the Division of Environmental Geosciences (DEG) Luncheon, will be held on Wednesday, April 13, and is titled “The Deepwater Horizon/Macondo well oil spill: Understanding the impact.” Dr. Edward B. Overton, professor emeritus in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Louisiana State University, will offer a scientific interpretation of the circumstances surrounding the Macondo oil spill, the impacts expected from oil spills in general, and the cleanup options. He will also discuss what happens when oil is weathered in the environment.

SEPM annual meeting. The Society for Sedimentary Geology, which holds its annual meeting in conjunction with the AAPG 2011, will host a series of events throughout this year’s show. From the SEPM President’s Reception and Awards Ceremony on April 12 to business meetings and research symposia throughout the week, the annual meeting offers a variety of technical sessions that complement the topics featured at AAPG 2011.

Technical program. This year’s technical program will feature more than 400 presentations and panel discussions classified under 11 themes, which include deepwater reservoirs, frontier resources, mudstones and shales, siliciclastics, breakthroughs in basin analysis, and integrating new technology.

An extensive short course program for AAPG 2011 has been designed to cater to the needs of geoscientists ranging from students just entering the world of petroleum geoscience to seasoned professionals who need to acquire skills in highly specialized disciplines. Thirteen short courses will be available before the start of the conference (April 9–10); four are available at the conclusion of the conference (April 14–15). It is recommended that participants register before March 14 for short courses. The complete short course program is available at wo-box_blue.gif


AAPG 2011 events at a glance
AAPG 2011 events at a glance
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