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Interview with Natalia Amezcua, Mexican Geological Survey: Innovators in Geoscience Series

Published
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Welcome to an interview with Natalia Amezcua, who is Research Deputy Manager in the Research and Development Direction of the Mexican Geological Survey. She also serves on the technical committee for AAPG’s Hedberg Research Conference on the Geology and Hydrocarbon Potential of the Circum Gulf of Mexico Pre-Salt Section, 4 – 6 of February in Mexico City. In addition to discussing the Gulf of Mexico, the conference will also include discussions of analogues and other depositional and structural models for pre-salt reservoirs in other parts of the world.

Natalia Amezcua
Natalia Amezcua
What is your name and your current position?

Natalia Amezcua and I work as Research Deputy Manager in the Research and Development Direction of the Mexican Geological Survey.

What is your background? How did you first become interested in geology?

Ever since I was a child living in the countryside, I enjoyed playing with mud and rocks. My early interests inspired me to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental sciences. Later, after being awarded a scholarship and the opportunity to continue my academic career I earned a Master’s degree in Geology specialized on sedimentology and stratigraphy. I continued my studies to pursue and earn a PhD in Geology focused on basin studies and petroleum geoscience.

With a great view of the Sierra Madre Oriental, in a sector of the Monterrey Salient, onto the Middle Jurassic salt and carbonates, and the pre-salt red beds at Galeana, Nuevo León México.
With a great view of the Sierra Madre Oriental, in a sector of the Monterrey Salient, onto the Middle Jurassic salt and carbonates, and the pre-salt red beds at Galeana, Nuevo León México.
Where have you worked as a geologist? Which geological locations? (fields, basins, etc.)?

I have worked in different localities in Mexico, mainly in the northeast with Mesozoic and Cenozoic sedimentary successions. I have worked on different locations of the Sierra Madre Oriental Province, in the Parras and La Popa Basins, and the Mayrán Basin System. I have also worked with the Mesozoic and Cenozoic rock locations in north, central and west Mexico (Jalisco-Colima Basin) and the Transmexican volcanic belt.

Please describe a memorable experience for you in your profession as a geologist.

This experience is really a funny one. I was doing fieldwork in Mexico and was accompanied by my dog. She was a cute and curious puppy then, sniffing all around, everything she could, which sadly, included the spiky desert cacti. That led to accidents. Later, at one site, I was cordially kicked off a ranch because its owner said that my dog was “trained” to sniff and find minerals and treasures, and in addition, my dog was sniffing geological faults. It was very funny, because in the eyes of the rancher, apparently my dog was an expert prospector and I was merely his human assistant.

What do you think about the future of oil and gas exploration in deepwater, sub-salt, and pre-salt conditions? It is a promising and challenging exploration and exploitation frontier.

Outcrop of Late Cretaceous prodelta deposits the Difunta Grup at the Parras Basin, northeast Mexico.
Outcrop of Late Cretaceous prodelta deposits the Difunta Grup at the Parras Basin, northeast Mexico.

What are some of the tools and techniques that will be necessary in the future?

I think exploration will require a combination of innovative and diverse techniques and tools applied remotely, onsite and in the laboratory. This is particularly important in remote areas with challenging weather conditions. In offshore activities, we may need additional tools for monitoring, preventing, and mitigating potential oil spills derived from deep-water activities.

What are some of your personal opinions about the science of petroleum geology today? What will future geoscientists need in order to succeed?

Different skills in the use of technological tools, balanced with direct at site experiences.

Can you please recommend a good book?

If you like exploring Mexican literature, I suggest a couple of my favorites; one is entitled “La Feria” from Juan José Arreola, our last minstrel, and the other book is “Yo soy mi casa”, from Guadalupe (Pita) Amor, a poetess characterized by her rebelliousness and audacity.

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