Core Analysis and a Passion for Geology: Interview with Ryan Day and Stephen Michalchuk

Published
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

An outstanding opportunity to look at three different types of Canadian core samples occurred at the Annual Convention in Calgary. Young Professional Canadian geologists brought and displayed core, where it attracted the attention of attendees, who liked being able to look at sedimentary rock from the western Canadian Sedimentary Basin.

Welcome to an interview with Ryan Day and Stephen Michalchuk, two of the geologists who facilitated the discussions.

What is your name and your relation to geosciences?  How did you get interested in geosciences, and where did you study?
RYAN: Ryan Day and I am a Geologist in Training. My interest in Geology came as a child, studying volcanoes and the San Andreas Fault. Also growing up in Calgary, I had the beautiful Rocky Mountains to hike and explore which also sparked my interest in how they came to be. I pursued that interest and went to the University of Calgary to study Geology and graduated in 2010.

STEPHEN: Hello, my name is Stephen Michalchuk and I am a junior geologist currently looking for employment. Living within a 30min drive from the Canadian Rockies in Calgary, Canada, it’s quite easy to be interested in rocks, in mountain building processes, and as well as in the lucrative oil and gas industry. I received my B.Sc. (Honours) in Geology and a minor in Geophysics at the University of Calgary, and then I went on to do my M.Sc. in structural geology at Lund University, Sweden.

What are some of the things you find most interesting about geology and geosciences?
RYAN: I think the thing I find most interesting is that nothing in Geology is ever the same. There is always some variable, small or big, that can change everything and figuring out that variable is what I love. Whether it be a change in a depositional environment or the way a change in stress can alter a formations structure. It's figuring out that problem that I love.

STEPHEN: Orogenesis, tectonics, and structural geology are my main interests. Soft rock or hard rock, I love examining faults, folds, fluid migration, orogenic processes leading to metamorphism, etc., and postulating what happened? Is this structure in outcrop an analogue to my seismic interpretation? What are these clays going to do to my drilling fluids? Where should we drill next? What sort of drilling complications could we expect? etc...

What are some of the experiences you've had with analyzing cores?
RYAN:I have been dealing with core since University Labs. Once I finished university I started working wellsite, coring in the Mannville formation near Lloydminster, SK. After that I worked in a laboratory studying core from around the WCSB in Alberta and cores around Canada. From there I went back to consulting, drilling wells in the Cardium Formation in Western Alberta.

STEPHEN: Fieldwork or looking at drill core is essential to a technical geoscientist, and a refresher for the veteran geoscience manager. Rock in its natural state gives the examining geologist an opportunity to formulate their own opinions and interpretations.

What kinds of cores did you display at the AAPG Annual Convention? What did you think that they revealed?
RYAN: We had 3 different types of core at the AAPG Annual convention; Falher formation (Consolidated), Alida Formation (Carbonate) and the McMurray Formation (Oil Sands). They revealed different depositional environments, and the features that influenced them

STEPHEN: We had 3 cores on display at ACE 2016 in Calgary that represented some reservoirs that have contributed to the oil and gas successes achieved over the years in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. We had oil sands core from the Clearwater to the McMurray formation. Some core from the Cretaceous clastic shorefaces of the deep basin Mannville Group, and as well as some beautiful porous and stylotized lagunal carbonates from the Mississippian Alida Fm of SW Manitoba.

What are your goals for the future?
RYAN:My goals for the future are to actively stay involved in the Geo Science community. With the market the way it is right now and the decrease in oil company activity I currently find myself unemployed, and this is the best way to keep those contacts going. I find, by showing initiative, planning and going to events, and continually learning and reading about Geology, is the best way to do that. When it all does come back, I hope to find myself in a position where I can use my mapping and structure skills to benefit not only a company but myself as well.

STEPHEN: Goals can change with industry ebbs and flows, but going forward, I think it is important to A) stay positive and to be on top of current affairs during this downtime in the industry - keeping contact with colleagues and making a point to expand my network, so that when that industry uptick does take off, I’ll be in a position to take advantage of emerging opportunities. B) to keep options open and follow my interests - that may include going back to school. C) to keep getting out for hikes and scrambles in the Canadian Rockies and looking at rocks. It’s mentally and physically healthy, challenging, and partially fulfills my geological needs!

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Don't miss! The Petroleum Geochemistry Toolkit - Short course, October 3-4 / Houston, TX

Carbonate Depositional Systems -- Short Course, October 3-4 / Houston, TX

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