Doing What We Say We Do: Ethics

This month we continue our series dealing with the reality of doing what we say we do. And this time the question is:

Do we do what we say we do regarding our maintenance of professional ethics at AAPG?

I recently had the opportunity to reappoint a very well qualified member of our Ethics Committee. This was easily done, as the individual is a great person who exceeds all the measures of professionalism and ethics one could ever wish.

A quick review of the Ethics Committee roster (all very accomplished, serious and exemplary AAPG members), however, triggered a question in my mind: I wonder how many complaints have been lodged – and how many scoundrels we have thrown out on their ears – in the last 10, 20, 30 years or more?

In visiting with the Ethics Committee chair, he didn’t remember charges being brought recently. So, I did some more checking and it turns out there have been a few folks who have had their memberships revoked. On a percentage basis this number is significantly less than one-tenth of one percent.

This percentage does not, by the way, include the fellow convicted of violence involving his wife, but who retained his membership and thereafter sent in letters to the EXPLORER editor from his prison cell.

We can look at this in a couple of ways:

First, we might acknowledge that some small few of us could know of a person who might cause us to ponder rather carefully before buying one of their prospects. Geology is an interpretative science, and some folks who are fully ethical can push the data a little further than someone else might.

Of course, one person’s optimist might be another person’s scoundrel.

If we were to be really honest with ourselves I think we might have to admit that in this litigious time our policing of ethics might not be as rigorous as we all might wish.

The facts of modern life, replete with rampant law suits, effectively prevent us from sending in a letter to AAPG that honor and rigorous ethics could otherwise suggest we should send.

Fortunately, the number of scoundrels all 38,000-plus of us might know is, in aggregate, very small indeed.

Alternatively, we could acknowledge that by most standards, the time and intense effort someone has gone through to gain a geological degree usually weeds out the worst sorts (I’ll let you judge what professions those folks might end up pursuing).

As to the possible scoundrels who might slip through, they are a very, very small percentage of our fellow AAPG members, and they are prone to weeding themselves out through their own actions in business.

We say we are rigorous about ethics in AAPG. We have an AAPG Code of Ethics that all of us promise to uphold – an impressive framed copy of it provided by past AAPG president Pete Rose hangs in the main conference room at our Tulsa headquarters, and I make a point of routinely reading it whenever I come into that meeting room. Thanks, Pete!

Also, all of us have access to it online (

So, regarding ethics in realistic terms, are we doing what we say we do?

In fact and practice, the phrase “not so much” comes to mind. History tells us that legislating morality doesn’t typically work very well (consider the stunning example of Prohibition in early 20th century United States).

If we truly are going to do what we say we do, we must either become much more draconian in policing that <0.1 percent, or be much more directly honest with ourselves and admit that it is reasonable to trust our geoscience colleagues to be honest and ethical.

I would submit that draconian measures would change things little or not at all. Thus, we may wish to say that our ethical code is clearly stated and all are expected to live by that code when we sign our names to the membership application.

During my 35 years or so as a member of AAPG I have found our members to be genuinely honest and decent, contributing members of society who are worthy of the trust we place in them when they sign our Code of Ethics.

For all of you who send me your comments and would like a copy, AAPG will send you a suitable-for-framing copy of the AAPG Code Of Ethics. Let me hear from you. If I have you all riled up, or (preferably) if you have something encouraging to say, please fire off a note to me and help me to understand how AAPG can better do all we say we will do.

Comments (0)


Presidents Column

President's Column - Lee Krystinik
Lee Krystinik, AAPG President (2013-14), is a principal with Fossil Creek Resources, Arlington, Texas.

President's Column

AAPG Presidents offer thoughts and information about their experiences for the Association. 


See Also: DL Abstract

The results of regional deep seismic acquisition in the South Atlantic continental margins have shed new lights on the birth and development of sedimentary basins formed during the Gondwana breakup. Recent models of mantle exhumation as observed in the deep water Iberian margin have been applied extensively to the interpretation of several basins in the Eastern Brazilian and West African conjugate margins. However, the tectonic development of these basins is markedly different from the magma-poor margins, and in this lecture we emphasize the contrasts from the tectono-sedimentary features imaged in deep-penetrating seismic profiles that extend from the platform towards the oceanic crust, which indicate that the Red Sea constitutes a better analogue for the birth of divergent continental margins.

Desktop /Portals/0/images/_site/AAPG-newlogo-vertical-morepadding.jpg?width=50&h=50&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=90amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 3088 DL Abstract

When evaluating paleosystems, there will always be a shortage of data constraints and a surplus of plausible geological scenarios for a basin evaluation. Modelling paleosystems with constraints from the modern has been used as a successful approach to better understand petroleum systems.

Desktop /Portals/0/images/_site/AAPG-newlogo-vertical-morepadding.jpg?width=50&h=50&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=90amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 3094 DL Abstract
Desktop /Portals/0/images/_site/AAPG-newlogo-vertical-morepadding.jpg?width=50&h=50&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=90amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 3077 DL Abstract

See Also: Short Course

This course provides an overview of the petroleum industry and upstream economics, beginning with the geoscientist’s role of evaluating uncertainty in E&P, estimating prospect resources, and estimating chances of success. The course then moves on to field development scenarios and cash flow models, developing various capital budgeting economic indices to evaluate and rank various prospective field projects, production and reservoir management for producing fields and international contract arrangements and emerging trends.


Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/ace2015-sc03-petroleum- economics-hero.jpg?width=50&h=50&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=90amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 14549 Short Course

See Also: Student Outlook

The Student Chapter YouTube video contest returns for 2015 in time for ACE Denver! Deadline for entry is April 13, 2015.

Desktop /Portals/0/PackFlashItemImages/WebReady/aapg-student-chapter-youtube-video-contest-2015-hero.jpg?width=50&h=50&mode=crop&anchor=middlecenter&quality=90amp;encoder=freeimage&progressive=true 16544 Student Outlook