AAPG Centennial and Janus

The AAPG will celebrate its Centennial (100th) Anniversary in 2017. We aren’t the oldest professional group for geologists – that honor belongs to The Geological Society of London. But we can claim the largest number of members – more than 39,000 worldwide.

The 100th Anniversary Committee already has started planning a number of special events to honor this momentous occasion. Several events at AAPG headquarters in Tulsa are planned during the anniversary year, but the big gala celebration will be held in Houston at the 2017 Annual Convention and Exibition.

There will be special projects as well, befitting this milestone and the questions that come with it, such as:

  • In this time of rapid change in our industry, how can we look back to prepare us for the journey forward?
  • What can AAPG provide to help all members in our jobs right now?

The 100th Anniversary Committee, chaired first by Charles Sternbach and currently by Ed Dolly, ruminated on these issues for a considerable amount of time. We would like to introduce you to five projects that are under way.

Many of the results will be located on a website to be ready soon.

♦ Discovery Thinking Forums – We all know about geoscientists who have made great oil and gas discoveries, but how did they do it?

How did they combine science and intuition?

What did they notice that nobody else saw?

To answer these questions, Charles, Ed, and Ted Beaumont have organized a well-attended forum at the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition since 2008, showcasing famous and not-so-famous discoverers. Twenty-four of these presentations have been posted on the AAPG Search and Discovery site, with more to follow.

u Geo-Legend Interviews – These interviews have a similar purpose to the Discovery Thinking Forums, but have been collected in a one-on-one format with some of our industry’s pioneers – top explorers, research geologists and professors.

It’s incredibly inspiring to hear about not just their successes, but their struggles as well, as the personalities of these geo-legends shine through.

We currently are editing the first set of videos, featuring Mike Johnson and John Amoruso, which are scheduled to be placed on the AAPG website by the end of this year. Additional videos will be posted later, featuring pioneers from all over the world.

The project includes the efforts of many, including Charles Sternbach, Daniel Minisini, Will Green, Mike Party, Steve Sonnenberg, and us.

♦ Landmark Papers Project – The 100-plus most significant papers on foundational principles and discovery thinking will be compiled in one place. This collection is intended to form a “body of knowledge” for our field, a key reference for students, educators and practitioners as well.

Randi Martinsen, Jim Steidtmann, and Jim Lowell are leading this project. The collection is planned to be ready by 2015.

♦ Outcrop Field Guides Project – As petroleum geologists, we need to study certain outcrops. But few of us are fortunate enough to visit all of the world’s illustrative outcrops in person – and if we do, the nuances of interpretation may be unclear.

Andrew Hurst (project leader), Stephan Graham, and John Lorenz are leading a project to address this problem, titled “Outcrops That Have Changed the Way We Practice Petroleum Geology: A Field Guide to Classic Localities.”

The deliverable will be a richly illustrated and annotated “coffee-table” book, supplemented by a searchable digital version for each outcrop study, containing maps, photographs, GPS data coordinates, and interpretations to be used by the lucky geologist in the field.

The book and digital guides are slated for release during late 2016.

♦ AAPG: The First Hundred Years – This history of our group, compiled by Rick Fritz, will significantly update and supplement the existing books commemorating AAPG’s 50th and 75th Anniversaries.


Janus was the two-headed Roman god of transition and beginnings, with one head looking to the past and one looking to the future – an appropriate symbol for the goals of this Committee.

For a professional group as large as AAPG, there are many committees and staffers working toward providing products and services for members. We wanted to highlight the Anniversary Committee this month, though, because its activities will give us tools that impact the way we do our jobs.

With the continuing evolution of concepts and technology in our profession, we are taking the best from our past to help shape our own future.

Note: Ed Dolly is my co-author for this month’s column. We have been working closely on the 100th Anniversary Committee since April 2007, and our work and words have been largely interchangeable since that time.

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