Past Messages


Bob Loucks, Spring 2005

loucksI am excited about the coming great year for the GCSSEPM. We can look forward to the joint GCAGS/GCSSEPM Annual Meeting September 25-27 in New Orleans. The theme of this meeting is "Gulf Coast Geological Gumbo-A Recipe for Success." Three different "Geological Gumbo Recipe" sections will cover topics on deep water, sub-salt, and deep shelf. This convention is important to GCSSEPM members, and I encourage you not only to attend, but also to submit a paper. I think that we as the GCSSEPM can really stand out at this convention.

The highlight of the year will be coming to Houston this December 4 for the 25th Annual GCSSEPM Foundation Bob F. Perkins Research Conference. This year's program-"Petroleum Systems of Divergent Continental Margin Basins"-is well under way. We are proud of the Bob F. Perkins Research Conference, which has grown into a well-recognized international conference, far surpassing its beginning focus as a regional Gulf of Mexico research meeting. Make sure to mark this important conference on your calendar.

Last year as the President-Elect of the GCSSEPM, I finally figured out the structure of our society. Before that, I simply considered the GCSSEPM as one group of people . I now realize that the GCSSEPM is divided between the GCSSEPM Executive Council and the GCSSEPM Foundation. The Foundation is known for the outstanding and world-class series of annual Bob F. Perkins Research Conferences. They also established the Ed Picou Fellowship Grants for graduate studies in earth sciences. They serve the geological community in an exceptional manner. The Executive Council also has its share of things to do such as helping to produce the annual GCAGS meeting, and it has done a good job of promoting earth science in the Houston area. These are important tasks for the Executive Council, but I think that the Executive Council, along with all our Business Representatives around the Gulf Coast, can do a lot more to make the GCSSEPM a hands-on, year-round organization.

I want to challenge the Executive Council and the Business Representatives to think of creative ways to encourage local participation in each of our 12 geographic areas. I want our local members to see things happening in their "backyard" in return for their membership in and support of GCSSEPM. A positive side benefit of local participation will be increased membership in our society. Below are some of my thoughts on promoting local participation.

The GCSSEPM has Business Representatives in 12 regional areas throughout the Gulf Coast. The main task of the Business Representatives is to collect information from their geographic area for the GCSSEPM Newsletter. I would like to see each Business Representative serve as an active outreach representative for the society. The representatives can be the vehicle that promotes local action with support from the Executive Council. This action should bring geoscientists together in a rewarding learning experience.

Topics for learning experiences could lead in several directions, but from my viewpoint as a "rock-oriented" geologist, I would like to see more GCSSEPM local action that promotes looking at rocks. I think each of the Business Representatives and the Executive Council members can set up informal activities that promote looking at rocks in their area. These activities can take the form of local field trips, core layouts, short courses, etc. I think they can be done at little to no cost, kept informal, and be fun. As an example, I will volunteer to run a half-day field trip to the Lower Cretaceous outcrops in the west Austin Hill Country before the end of 2005. On this half-day field trip, geoscientists can see a complete section of the platform-interior upper Glen Rose and Edwards Formations. Besides just seeing great rocks, I bet we can generate some heated discussion on the packaging and sequence stratigraphy of these rocks. The expenses of this trip will be the time organizing it, sending out some e-mails to advertise it, and printing up a handout of "crude" maps of the location stops and the measured sections.

In Austin, I could also see putting on core conferences at the Bureau of Economic Geology's core warehouse. We have thousands of feet of core to choose from, and many of these cores are already described. Again it would take someone to organize it, but the cost would be nil. I would also like the local representatives of the GCSSEPM to consider putting on short courses in their local areas. These short courses may need a registration fee to cover some of the cost, but I bet that with a little effort a meaningful course could be developed in a short period of time and have a great impact. I know that the important ingredient for any local action is the willingness of someone to start it. With a little arm-twisting I'm sure the originator could get others to help.

Getting local activities started by GCSSEPM members will promote the society, which in turn will increase our membership. The activities need to be open to all geoscientists, especially students. We should also encourage nonmembers to participate. All of these activities can be excellent opportunities to enlist new members. I think that after guests have enjoyed a free field trip, etc., they would be more than willing to pay $10 for a year's membership. This is a great way to introduce students to the GCSSEPM. At present we have approximately 450 members. I think we can increase our GCSSEPM membership by 20% with a little effort.

Therefore, I am encouraging the Executive Council members, Business Representatives, and any other member to promote year-round, local participation in our society. Organize an activity to look at sediments or rocks. Get the local GCSSEPM members and nonmembers involved. While they are being enthralled by their local geology, hand them a Membership Application and Renewal form. I also encourage anyone who reads this column and has an idea for a local activity to contact the local Business Representative or me directly.

Another positive return derived from local activities is mentoring. Our past president, Jory Pacht, wrote in the 2004 Fall President's Column that a lot of the new hires in geology need mentoring. I share this view, especially when it comes to looking at rocks. I am a big believer that a geoscientist should know how to describe rocks from outcrops, in cores, and under the microscope. I see our universities getting stronger in the software approach to geology at the expense of the rock-description approach. I think that local activities led by GCSSEPM members could fill part of this mentoring need.

One final comment on presenting local activities: The GCSSEPM was established for the purpose of "promoting the science of stratigraphy in the Gulf Coast states through research in paleontology and sedimentary petrology, especially as it relates to petroleum geology." By sponsoring local activities we will be fulfilling the goals of the original GCSSEPM mandate, and we will be having fun while we do it.

Before ending, I want to thank our past Executive Council: Jory Pacht for serving as President, Bonnie Weise as Vice President, Lana Ann Czerniakowski as Secretary, Patricia Santogrossi as Treasurer, and Dick Fillon as Past-President. A big welcome to our new Executive Council consisting of Lesli Wood as President-Elect, Kevin Schofield as Vice President, Lana Ann Czerniakowski as Secretary, Ramón Treviño as Treasurer, and Jory Pacht as Past President. I also want to congratulate our GCSSEPM Foundation for another successful and cutting-edge Bob F. Perkins Research Conference titled "Salt-Sediment Interactions and Hydrocarbon Prospectivity."