DEG Aims to Expand Focus, Membership

As the newly elected Division of Environmental Geosciences (DEG) president for 2010-11, please let me introduce myself.

I became an AAPG member in 1984 while in graduate school at the University of Idaho, where I was actively involved in an AAPG student chapter. My affiliation with DEG began when the organization was formed in 1992; I served as an original member of the first Hydrogeology Committee.

I am excited about serving as DEG president and believe the next year offers many opportunities for the division.


In past years, DEG’s major areas of technical focus have included hydrogeology, environmental geophysics and carbon sequestration as it relates to the petroleum industry. Over the next year we intend to expand our technical focus areas to include:

  • Hydraulic fracturing.
  • Produced water.
  • Enhanced oil recovery.
  • Environmental impacts of oil spills.

We plan to sponsor special editions on the above topics in our Environmental Geosciences Journal – our new editor-in-chief Kristin Carter has assembled an impressive editorial staff with a broad experience base, and is very interested in addressing issues that inherently link petroleum geology with the environment.


As with AAPG’s other divisions, international growth is a goal for the coming year. DEG has initiated a membership drive to attract new national, international and student members by implementing a “no dues” policy for AAPG members who join DEG.

Further, DEG is partnering with the Geological Society of London to arrange a series of semi-annual conferences on carbon sequestration topics (thanks to Peter Lloyd, DEG Advisory Board).

DEG also is working to have a more visible presence at international meetings while continuing to sponsor sessions and short courses at regional and annual meetings. DEG will continue to partner with both EMD and DPA on joint sessions and other interactions, as appropriate.

All of these are ambitious goals and require assistance and support from both the DEG Executive Council and Advisory Board. My experience in working with DEG members on these groups over the past few years has been rewarding to say the least, as these individuals are clearly committed to both their professions and to the division.

As geoscientists and AAPG members, we should all be good stewards of our natural resources and support protection of our environment. This message has been amplified in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill. The spill has impacted the petroleum industry in the offshore gulf, and will eventually bring more regulation both offshore and onshore.

It is encouraging that several large players who routinely work in the Gulf of Mexico plan to invest in a more complete spill-response infrastructure. Perhaps this will encourage the government to engage with the petroleum industry more proactively on these matters.

While the spill is an environmental accident of unforeseen proportion, I agree with past DEG president Mike Jacobs’ last column (June EXPLORER), where he recognized the need for a balanced approach to exploration and production while protecting the environment.

The industry also should step forward to address the engineering and safety issues associated with the spill, as well as promote research of oil spill remediation. Tidal areas, beaches and coastal environments are important to all of us.

To quote Mike Jacobs, “I think it is fair to say the recent events taking place in the Gulf of Mexico highlight some of the purposes behind the existence of the DEG.”

It is DEG’s duty to communicate with the public regarding how AAPG responds – not only to the current Gulf Coast crisis but to all environmental issues affecting our industry.

As the DEG president I willingly take on this responsibility to promote education and communication between and among AAPG members and the public about these issues.


I challenge every AAPG member to become an active DEG member. By doing so, you will not only help us educate the public regarding energy and environmental matters, but you also will benefit by being kept abreast of the latest research, which offers value to both the petroleum industry and the environmental community at large.

Please consider joining DEG to promote these important messages involving the environmentally safe development of our natural resources.

Remember, good science makes for a healthy earth.

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Division Column-DEG Mary K. Harris

Mary K. Harris, President, Division of Environmental Geosciences

Division Column DEG

The Division of Environmental Geosciences (DEG), a division of AAPG, is concerned with increasing awareness of the environment and the petroleum industry and providing AAPG with a scientific voice in the public arena. Among its objectives are educating members about important environmental issues, supporting and encouraging research on the effects of exploration and production on the environment, and communicating scientific information to concerned governmental agencies.

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The most highly subsiding parts of the Rocky Mountain foreland basin, near the fold and thrust belt to the west, typically contain a low number of coarse-grained sandstone channels but limited sandstone reservoirs. However, where subsidence is greater than sediment supply, the foredeep contains stacked deltaic sandstones, coal, and preserved transgressive marine shales in mainly conformable successions. The main exploration play in this area is currently coalbed gas, but the enhanced coal thickness combined with a Mowry marine shale source rock indicates that a low-permeability, basin-centered play may exist somewhere along strike in a deep part of the basin.

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Paleogeographic reconstructions are used to show exploration fairways of the different play types present in the Laramide-modified, Cretaceous foreland basin. Existing oil and gas fields from these plays show a relatively consistent volume of hydrocarbons, which results from the partitioning of facies within the different parts of the foreland basin.

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