Past Messages


Richard Fillon, Winter 2003

fillonI hope you all have survived the summer doldrums. The planet Mars is on its way back to the other side of the solar system, family vacations are over, and the kids are back in school. It is time once again to don the mantle of the focused, thoughtful geoscientist.

Congratulations and welcome to the new GCSSEPM Council members: Bob Loucks, President Elect and Bonnie Weise, Vice President. Also, a warm welcome back to our Secretary Lana Czerniakowski, reelected to a second two-year term. At the end of the year they will be assuming their new duties and I will be moving into the ranks of Past Presidents. For the election runners-up, Paul Post and Dorene West, I offer my sincere appreciation. The section could not function without volunteers willing to run for office. To my fellow 2003 Council members, Jory Pacht, Rome Lytton, Lana Czerniakowski, and Patricia Santogrossi, thanks for all your efforts on behalf of the Section. They are much appreciated by your fellow GCSSEPM members and nonmember colleagues alike.

In this my final message as GCSSEPM President I would like to address three important topics: 1) The upcoming 23rd Annual Bob F. Perkins GCSSEPM Research Conference "Shelf Margin Deltas and Linked Downslope Petroleum Systems"; 2) Why it is in the best interest of the petroleum industry to support research conferences, technical meetings, workshops, and other programs organized by GCSSEPM; and 3) Why it is necessary to upgrade the level of scientific study in Gulf of Mexico exploration.

By the time you read this, the Annual GCSSEPM Research Conference will be nearly upon us. If you have not already made plans to attend, it is time to do so. You can register online at This year's conference focuses on shelf-margin deposition, downslope transport, and associated prolific petroleum systems around the world. Conference presentations and papers will particularly address how, when, and why outer-shelf and shelf-edge deltas regulate sand input to the slope and deep basin. Understanding how deltas work is a key element in understanding the siliciclastic petroleum system. It is, after all, the distribution of permeable sands (and coarse silts) within relatively impermeable clay-rich strata at micro and macro scales that regulates the migration and distribution of hydrocarbon accumulations.

This year's conference will provide significant insights into the nature of permeable bed "connectivity" in petroleum systems. As commonly applied, the concept of connectivity encompasses factors inherent in reservoir-scale sand bed architecture that determine how well a reservoir produces. However, connectivity is also important at basinal scales in determining how well a petroleum system produces. Presenters at the conference will discuss transport of sand from incised fluvial valleys, to deltas, to upper-slope canyons, to slope minibasins and to the basin floor. They will examine the effects of sea level change, climate, compaction, isostasy and tectonism, salt displacement, and hydrate dissociation as controlling factors. New outcrop and core studies that trace sand distribution basinward from the shelf will provide a level of insight that cannot be gained from conventional subsurface studies. Join us December 7th at the Adam's Mark Hotel in Houston and you will leave reflecting on the latest developments in siliciclastic petroleum system evolution and architecture.

Now, a word about why companies should support the GCSSEPM Foundation. The Annual Bob F. Perkins Research Conference, while a yearly geoscience milestone, is but one of the GCSSEPM's contributions to the petroleum industry community. Each year the GCSSEPM also sponsors symposia at its Annual Meeting, held jointly with the GCAGS Convention. In Baton Rouge this year, GCSSEPM will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Section. It provides a great opportunity to drop by our booth to ask questions or say hello. In addition to the annual research conference and meeting, the Foundation sponsors and helps organize special symposia and workshops on topics of current interest. Recent examples of GCSSEPM sponsored events are a Deep-Water Core Workshop and a Symposium on the Cretaceous of West Texas. If you missed the opportunity to attend either of these events the splendidly illustrated CD-ROM publications are now available for purchase.

One of the principal contributions of the GCSSEPM Foundation is publishing thematic collections of peer-reviewed, well edited papers documenting presentations at all of its venues. Many of these volumes have become important reference works for industry geoscientists. Our most recent CD-ROM bestseller is "Petroleum Systems of Deep Water Basins: Global and Gulf of Mexico Experience." We hope that the oil industry will regularly and generously support the work of the GCSSEPM. All funds provided to the Foundation are put quickly to work in support of scientific information exchange on topics of current interest to the petroleum industry—please send us your topical ideas. The Foundation is embarking on a fund-raising drive designed especially to better meet industry's needs for earth science knowledge in the coming years. It is targeting support for at least two new conferences or technical workshops each year. With your help, during 2004, the Foundation will provide significant support for the organization of an international conference on "Geologic Problem Solving with Microfossils" to be held in Houston. It also plans to increase the size of its Ed Picou Graduate Fellowship Program to provide greater support for more graduate students in the earth sciences. As funds become available, the Foundation also hopes to be able to provide financial grants in support of worthwhile and innovative research programs and the timely presentation and publication of research results. Please consider placing GCSSEPM Foundation support as an annual expense item in your company budget to benefit the continuing education of earth science professionals. Your effort in making funds available can help ensure that bright university graduates continue to specialize in the earth science disciplines needed to keep us on the road to energy sufficiency and financial success in the coming decade.

As always, should you care to weigh in on any of the above or would like to volunteer to be a GCSSEPM Business Rep, please contact me, the GCSSEPM Secretary, Lana Czerniakowski, or comment directly to any of the Council officers or trustees. All suggestions will be brought up and discussed at our next council meeting. On a final note, please try to attend both the Annual Convention in Baton Rouge, and to the December Bob F. Perkins Research Conference in Houston, Texas. Both venues this year have exciting programs that will be well worth the money and time invested. If company travel funds are tight this year, remember that Baton Rouge is only about a 4-hour drive on I-10 from downtown Houston. See you there.