Industrial Paleontology

John M. Armentrout (Mobil Oil Meptec., P.O. Box 650232, Dallas, TX 75265-0232, USA).

Maria Antonieta Lorente (Department of Energy, Merritt Road, Fort Bonifacio, Metro Manila, PHILIPPINES).

Bati Ozumba (Shell Petroleum Company, Ept-Jb, rts, siep, Rijswijk, NETHERLANDS).

Shirley van Heck (Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd XGL/2, Seria 7082, Negara, BRUNEI DARUSSALAM).


In the 21st Century, the global demand for energy resources will continue to increase driven by economic growth in developing countries and the growing population (Figure 9).

Figure 9

Fossil fuels will provide most of that energy for at least the next 60 to 80 years (Figure 10). Biostratigraphy has been and will continue to be an integral tool in the search for and production of oil and gas. Thus, there are economic incentives to sustain current industrial paleontology staff and reinvigorate university training programs in stratigraphically oriented paleontology.

Figure 10

Sustaining current staff depends on demonstrating the technical value of biostratigraphy to the business of finding and producing oil and gas. Once the value is documented and effectively communicated, renewal of staff will provide jobs for at least two new generations of industrial paleontologists. The industrial hiring of paleontologists will provide incentive for

natural science students to consider a career in stratigraphic paleontology. Critical to this scenario is sustaining and rebuilding training programs in the university community, which will supply the paleontologists to meet the future demand.

As we plan for the 21st Century, the most critical role for industrial paleontologists is two fold: 1) to document the value-added to exploration and production projects through integration of paleontologic data in each study, and 2) to communicate effectively to the academic community that the future demand is real for industrial paleontologists. Item 2 can be backed up with industry providing the teaching community with support through materials illustrating application of biostratigraphy to solving geologic problems.

During our discussion at the Senckenberg Conference, issues were placed in six topical categories, and short-term and longer-term action items were identified. Some of these topics were reviewed in the preconference position papers (see Armentrout, 1997). Representatives from North America had been able to assemble data and define trends. Paleontologists from other countries had less data on hand but concurred with most of the trends. It was recognized that there will be no quick fix and that useful action must focus on things for which we can take responsibility.


1. Industrial Careers.

  • Is the current 1997-1998 boom real? Yes, but it is not occurring everywhere. The boom is related to increased efficiency and lower costs from new technology. This includes 3D seismic to define prospects, directional drilling to increase connectivity with the reservoir and increase flow-rates per well, and the application of sequence stratigraphic principles to interpretation. Additionally, new engineering techniques suggest that production from very deep-water areas will soon become economic. This technological boom has an associated incremental increase in the demand for biostratigraphic analyses. Many biostratigraphic groups are working at maximum load, but no one knows how long this boom phase will last or if the price recession of late 1997 to early 1998 will be long lasting.

  • Will there be jobs for future generations of industry paleontologists? Yes, for at least two more generations of industry paleontologists. Figure 10 suggests at least 60 more years of dependency on petroleum for energy. As exploration declines there will be increased demand for secondary and tertiary recovery from producing reservoirs. Delineation of reservoir architecture will require better depositional models. Mudstone intervals bounding and within the reservoirs are best calibrated using paleontology, so paleontologists will be needed for these reservoir studies as well as in more traditional roles in exploration of frontier areas.

  • How soon will industrial paleontology jobs be available? Immediately! In fact, the aging community of currently employed industry paleontologists will need to be replaced over the next twenty years suggesting that merely to meet the current demand industry must begin hiring now. Figure 11 shows the age of the currently employed North American paleontologists. Although the current sampling is small, the demographics will not change significantly with additional reports. The average age of both consultants and oil-company paleontologists is in the late forties with most retiring in the next twenty years.

Figure 11

    University geoscience departments report a dramatic increase in visits by recruiters, and recruiters report a shortage in all disciplines needed for the petroleum industry. Students specializing in stratigraphic paleontology especially are in short supply. Some companies have begun to provide contract work for graduate students as encouragement toward future employment with the sponsoring company.

  • Are the petroleum industry jobs likely to be stable? Yes and No! The petroleum industry is subject to boom-and-bust cycles. Survival through the bust phase requires a competitive edge combined with some luck. From a peak employment in 1981, the giant oil companies shed more than 750,000 employees (Figure 12). Using American Association of Petroleum Geologist membership statistics as a proxy for corporate statistics, it appears that many giant oil companies reduced their technical work force about fifty percent from the early 1980's peak employment. If one compares 1995 major oil company memberships in AAPG with 1975 numbers, however, one sees that there are more AAPG members today in each company than in 1975 (Figure 13). This suggests continuing growth in the technical staff over the long term.

Figure 12

Figure 13

    Survivors of the bust often do very well. They generally have stronger backgrounds in basic earth science, which allows for greater flexibility as job demands evolve. Many who leave the major companies go into consulting and are well prepared to take advantage of the next boom. But clearly there are many who do not continue in petroleum industry careers. Katz (1996), using statistics from 270 geoscience departments, reported that approximately 16 percent of North American and 26 percent of non-North American geology students were employed outside geology in 1995. It is a competitive market.

    If one looks at the statistics for the natural-science community, there is good news for geologists. Based on United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 1.9 geology graduates for each geoscience job in the United States (Figure 14)(Holbrook, 1997). This compares very favorably against chemists with 2.5 graduates for each job, physicists with 4.7 graduates per job, and 5.6 biologists for every job. At the current graduation rate in the United States, it will take 17.2 years to replace all of the currently employed geologists compared to only 2.5 years to replace all the currently employed biologists, assuming the new graduates have the skills ultimately to replace experienced scientists.

Figure 14

  • Do the industrial jobs have growth potential? Yes! Paleontologists who demonstrate skills in planning and leadership clearly move ahead within corporate organizations but must leave paleontology. Additionally, paleontologists who broaden their skills and become effective explorationists are often in demand for team assignments outside of paleontology. Some have become very successful rising to General Manager of corporate divisions. Most paleontologists, however, stay within their specialty where there is limited growth potential within the relatively small groups of paleontologists employed by most major oil companies. In such positions, compensation is still very good and job satisfaction can be significant although derived mostly from fulfillment of self-directed goals.

  • Do the industrial jobs have growth potential? Yes! Paleontologists who demonstrate skills in planning and leadership clearly move ahead within corporate organizations but must leave paleontology. Additionally, paleontologists who broaden their skills and become effective explorationists are often in demand for team assignments outside of paleontology. Some have become very successful rising to General Manager of corporate divisions. Most paleontologists, however, stay within their specialty where there is limited growth potential within the relatively small groups of paleontologists employed by most major oil companies. In such positions, compensation is still very good and job satisfaction can be significant although derived mostly from fulfillment of self-directed goals.

  • Is Industrial pay good? Yes! The Wall Street Journal (Fox, 1997) reported that oil companies are offering entry level salaries approaching $50,000 (US) for candidates in technical areas with short supplies of new graduates. Paleontologists are not at the top of the high-demand list but are in short supply so initial salary offers are likely to be good. Good performers continue to be well compensated.

2. Education and Training:

  • Who are the clients for training? Three groups: student paleontologists, general geoscience majors, and petroleum industry employees.

    Obviously, university students interested in paleontology need training in systematics, taxonomy, applied paleontology, and such associated disciplines as isotopic geochemistry and magnetostratigraphy. General geoscience majors need to have a background in paleontology because most dating of geologic events is provided by fossil evidence, and significant information on environmental change is developed through paleontological study. Petroleum industry geoscientists also need training in applied paleontology. Fully integrated studies require the age and environmental information paleontology provides, and the interdisciplinary team needs members conversant in paleontology or at least informed enough to ask useful questions of the paleontologic specialists. Both university programs and industry training programs need courses in applied paleontology.

  • Where will industrial paleontologists get their educations? A major concern! Traditionally, graduates well versed in systematics and taxonomy were hired by oil companies and then spent several years learning stratigraphic paleontology under the supervision of experienced mentors. The supply of mentors is decreasing, and most are now moving further from the basics of paleontology. They are spending more time managing quality control of contract work and integrating paleontologic data as members of exploration teams. In Europe, Robertson Research has for years hired recent graduates, trained them, and then had them hired away by the major oil companies. Few American paleontological consulting companies provide such training, so the supply from this avenue is not sufficient to meet the anticipated demand during the next several decades.

    In many university geoscience departments, environmental geologists, geohydrologists, or paleobiologists are replacing paleontologists. This trend is driven in part by demographics. During the decade of the 1950s, stratigraphy and paleontology were the number one area of graduate study in North America, and the universities hired stratigraphers and paleontologists (Figure 15). These teachers are now in their late sixties and seventies and are retiring. Environmental geology became the number one earth-science degree program in the late 1980s and 1990s (Figure 15), and departments are still hiring teachers in these fields, believing that is where the student market is focused. In reality, the environmental geology market in North America peaked in the early nineties and is now going through a cycle of replacement of moderately experienced geologists with brand new graduates trained in the latest technology. This is happening as the oil industry recognizes it has lain off too many geoscientists and now cannot find enough to renew their technical work force (Fox, 1997).

Figure 15

    In the United States, enrollment in university geoscience departments is directly impacted by job opportunities in the petroleum business. Figure 16 shows the number of undergraduate and graduate students in university programs from 1955 to 1993. The 1963 low and 1983 high are coincident with the petroleum industry’s low and high activity in the most recent cycle. Many geology departments expanded their programs in stratigraphic geology during the late 1970s and 1980s only to see the students go elsewhere during the late 1980s. Now, with an increase in industry activity driven by technological advances with moderately stable prices, the demand is up for geoscience students, but the departments are hesitant to expand again their petroleum-oriented programs.

Figure 16

    These trends have created a real problem for the education of stratigraphic paleontologists. For example, during the middle 1980s in North America, the teaching of stratigraphic palynology was alive and well in more than 30 universities. Now there are significant programs only at the University of Toronto and Louisiana State University. The Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists, recognizing this trend, organized a campaign to establish the palynological program at Louisiana State. They worked to establish an endowed chair, secure research funding, and arranged donation of major industry collections to the program. Their objective is to assure that there is at least one United States-based viable program in stratigraphic palynology. In Europe, Brunei Shell Petroleum has sponsored a teaching position at the University of Aberdeen for stratigraphic paleontology, which has a primary focus in training students in Southeast Asia as a future resource for the industry. The instructor for the Aberdeen program is from industry assuring that the students learn best practices in applied paleontology.

    These two programs are examples that could be duplicated for other fossil groups and for other geographic areas and companies. It will take a proactive industrial paleontological community to establish such programs to assure the future availability of training in stratigraphic paleontology.

  • What should be taught in the universities? The basics ... but...! There is no question that systematics and taxonomy are the foundation of paleontology and absolutely essential to the reproducibility of interpretations of age and environment so critical to industry. Most geoscience majors, however, are not interested in the details that excite the paleontological specialists. It is recommended that the undergraduate teaching of paleontology focus on the principles and concepts that are fundamental for every geoscientist. This broad spectrum of geologists needs to learn what fossil data can and cannot do to answer questions about climate change, depositional environments, rates of geologic processes, and correlation of geologic events recognized on seismic reflection profiles as a framework for reconstructing geologic history. With this fundamental knowledge of the utility of fossils, introductory students may become future clients of paleontologists or even paleontologists. The specialty courses would then follow for those students wishing to become paleontological experts.

    One aspect of the undergraduate program in paleontology might be to include an industrial paleontologist as an adjunct instructor. This co-instructor could supply case histories that solve geologic problems with paleontological data. Such team teaching might be expanded to include an upper division course in stratigraphic paleontology.

  • Beyond the basics, what training should occur in universities? Leffingwell (1994) listed six strategies essential for success as industry paleontologists. Students aware of these strategies should incorporate them into their university work.
    1. Become part of the business unit. Teamwork, clearly defined deliverables, and demonstration of economic value are essential. Participation in some aspect of team projects during graduate training is perceived as positive during recruitment. Awareness of the utility of thesis research is also a plus.

    2. Improve efficiency of data generation. Faster and cheaper are keywords for all aspects of the petroleum industry, and this strategy is spreading rapidly to the academic community. Students should consider how they could have improved on their efficiency in graduate work and effectively communicate that during interviews.

    3. Quantify the data. Computer literacy is a universal expectation for all employees. Data capture, display, and interpretation should reflect awareness of available software programs and the strengths and weaknesses of various statistical methods.

    4. Integrate the data. Industry is critically aware of the benefit from integration of data from several disciplines. Students must be cross-discipline conversant and should demonstrate in their graduate research the ability to reach out and use information from allied disciplines.

    5. Computerize preliminary interpretations. The rapid processing of raw data into interpretations is cost effective. The geological sciences are strongly visual, and the statistical analysis of complex data sets and the graphical display of interrelationships can facilitate interpretation. This is an area where innovation and creativity can be clearly demonstrated, especially during graduate study.

    6. Promote sequence analysis. Sequence stratigraphic analysis continues to be a dynamic area of study in geology. In reality, it is a return to the basics of chronostratigraphic analysis so well demonstrated by paleontologists prior to the shift in the 1960s to sedimentary process analysis that captured the interest of the sedimentary geology community. Every geologist, but most especially paleontologists, must be fully conversant with the strengths and weaknesses of sequence stratigraphy. Career success in the petroleum industry dictates that this understanding extends to the use of seismic reflection profiles as the primary data source.

    Students and new hires must be aware of these areas of expectation held by employers and work to demonstrate effectively their proficiency in each.

  • How can industry effect change in academia? Provide money and jobs! All the wishful thinking and expression of concern will do little to effect change or to sustain paleontology in the university systems. What is needed are jobs for paleontology students with oil companies, hired as summer interns, as postdoctoral appointments, and as regular employees. This combined with support of university-based research consortia and graduate study will send the message to professors, department chairs, and deans that there is a market for paleontology that will benefit the university. While this may be, to some, an affront to the academic ideal, it is an economic reality.

    Industry cannot reach out and support every paleontology program. Therefore, a focused effort at specific universities may be most cost effective. In surveying North American industry paleontologists it was found that about half-a-dozen schools produced nearly 40 percent of the active paleontologists; 60 percent were the only representative of their university. Many of the professors who provided the training for the current generation of industry paleontologists are no longer teaching, and many of those universities no longer have a program in stratigraphic paleontology. Programs currently produce or are likely to produce stratigraphic paleontologists need to be identified and supported if a critical mass of students is to be educated in the skills that industry needs. These programs can be sustained and expanded if industry paleontologists take a proactive role in finding funding for research and graduate study and provide incentive for those studying stratigraphic paleontology by providing jobs for the graduating students.

  • What paleontology training is needed for industry employees? Integration skills! With the increase in a team approach to project work and the use of computers to facilitate merging multidisciplinary data, integration skills are essential. Each geoscientist must know enough about the many disciplines to ask useful questions and invite specialists to help solve problems at appropriate times. It is unlikely that a course in paleontology fundamentals would draw a critical mass of students from the ranks of oil company geologists. A course that focuses on how to integrate paleontological data to make log correlations, calibrate seismic facies, and construct a reservoir framework, however, would be very useful for most petroleum-industry employees.

3. Scientific and Technical Issues.

  • Where and when will new tools be developed, and who will pay for them? This issue generated considerable discussion. Traditionally, large industry groups have helped develop the new tools for industrial paleontology. Amoco's graphic correlation, Exxon's sequence stratigraphy, Unocal's Integrated Biostratigraphy Station, and Mobil's sequence biostratigraphy have all developed out of groups with a critical mass of experts. Staff reductions at most companies have reduced the potential for development of new tools. The competitive market for most consultant groups prevents charging fees sufficient to support research and development programs, and few funding agencies support applied paleontological research.

    Development of new tools for sample analysis, data capture, data analysis, and creative interpretations must be supported to sustain a competitive position for paleontology among the tools used by industry. If industry is no longer capable of generating these new tools then industry must support university-based programs with that objective. Research centers such as the Center for Excellence in Palynology at Louisiana State University need to be established at other universities. The petroleum industry must accept the responsibility to support these programs, and the university program leadership must focus their programs on issues that are marketable to industry.

  • How can we improve the communication between industry and academia? The discussion group felt that face-to-face reviews are the most effective communication forum. Thus, industry paleontologists must proactively attend traditionally academic meetings (North American Paleontological Convention) and the academic paleontologist the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists annual meetings. The discussion group feels that working paleontologists rather than middle management must be the representatives for industry at consortium meetings.

4. Image Issues.

  • Paleontologists must be increasingly aware of the needs of clients. With the industry emphasis on clearly defined deliverables and demonstrable value-added impact, both industry biostratigraphers and academic paleontologists seeking research funds or employment of students with industry must be aware of market demands. Science for the sake of science is not acceptable in today's business world. Managers sponsoring research or consulting want to know exactly what they are paying for and how it will help their project. This necessitates that the paleontologist provides the data and interpretations in a format useful to the buyer. In industry that means formatting biostratigraphic data in two-way-time so it can be overlain on seismic reflection profiles. Academic paleontologists need to provide observational data, such as sample analyses, using a software program compatible with the contracting company's computer system.

    For the deliverable to be useful, the paleontologist must understand the needs of the client. They must become conversant with the application of the petroleum system approach to exploration and computer modeling of reservoir simulation in order to understand what questions are to be addressed using fossil evidence.

  • What is the most significant barrier to optimal use of paleontologic data? Paleontologic data are often reported long after the well is drilled and analyzed using wireline log and associated geophysical data. Sample processing, examination for several taxonomic groups, and integration of biostratigraphic data take time. When the paleontological report finally arrives, it often suggests some changes to the already interpreted data sets. This late arrival of data suggesting alternative interpretations is generally unwelcome to the interpretation team. Often they would rather not have such information at all.

    Well-site stratigraphic paleontology could solve much of this problem and is demonstrated by biosteering of horizontal wells. Biosteering uses fossil evidence to keep a well bore trajectory within a biostratigraphically designated interval. This necessitates immediate analysis of well cuttings on the drilling platform. Techniques to accelerate sample processing have been developed to facilitate this process and biosteering is now being used in the North Sea, southeastern Asia, and offshore Nigeria.

    Biosteering methodology provides an example of accelerated processing of paleontologic data. Inclusion of paleontologists in the early planning stages of a project could also facilitate the early development of the biostratigraphic data. The reporting of critically needed preliminary interpretations during the project could aid the interpreters of other disciplines. This would necessitate the paleontologists’ making high-risk, early interpretations, a behavior we often avoid. To demonstrate value-added impact on projects, paleontologists must find ways to get their analyses into the hands of the integration team before the team has formulated its interpretation.

  • Data must be reported addressing multiple working hypotheses and with clarification of precision and reliability. Few geologic problems have a unique answer. Paleontological data must be reported in such a way that the user can evaluate which working hypothesis best fits the data. This requires that each element of the data and each interpretation from the data is clearly rated for precision and reliability. Age interpretations and estimates of water depth need to be qualified as to the absolute precision and the possibility of alternative interpretations. If only one interpretation is offered that does not fit other data, the paleontological data are often ignored in the final interpretation because the geoscientist seldom knows how to ask useful questions to uncover alternative interpretations of the fossil evidence.

    If paleontologists provide alternative interpretations to their analyses, they empower the geologist and geophysicist to consider new interpretations of the other data sets. This iterative process may result in break-through understanding that leads to economic advantage, the driving force behind business. Once a biostratigrapher's clients have experienced the empowering force of alternative interpretations, they are likely to investigate why such differences could be considered. This inquiry could lead to discussions with the paleontologist that result in better understanding of each other's disciplines and improve the entire team's product. The paleontologist will become a valued member of the interpretation team. Managers observing such technological teamwork are likely to support similar projects including the paleontologic aspects. Everyone wins from this process.

  • How can we better communicate new concepts, case histories, and best practices? The discussion group strongly supports the development of paleontological bulletin boards, websites, and list servers to facilitate communication between paleontologists. Action items to develop such electronic communications were defined and are listed below.

5. Quality Standards.

  • What type of standards are useful for industrial paleontologists? Both the industry-paleontology and the consultancy discussion groups believe that standardization of taxonomy and biofacies analysis is essential to the success of industrial paleontology. For decades each company and each consultant closely guarded their proprietary tops and facies-assemblage lists. In today's market, where cooperative efforts result in data sharing and where reproducibility of interpretations is essential, proprietary analysis is often a liability.

    In integration of paleontological analyses from several sources, incompatible interpretations for the same species or sample sets suggests to the nonpaleontologist that the data do not allow reproducible interpretations and therefore are not reliable. The generally inadequate understanding of paleontology and why such variance of interpretations occurs leaves the geologist and geophysicist negatively disposed to paleontologic data.

    Efforts to standardize interpretations have long existed within companies and consulting groups. Now that effort is spreading to consortia of companies. The Gulf Coast Section of SEPM has a multiyear Equivalency Project to establish criteria for chronostratigraphically significant taxa and assemblages indicative of specific depositional environments. It is the objective of this project to provide industrial paleontologists working in the Gulf of Mexico with standard criteria so that interpretations are reproducible from company to company facilitating the merging of multiple data sets. Such cooperative efforts are needed throughout the industry and have been initiated by the Nigerian Stratigraphic Commission for the Niger Delta production area.

  • Should there be standards set for reporting paleontologic data? The establishment of industry-wide report standards is an emotional topic. The environmental geology industry has a history of licensing and standardization of reporting that has grown out of competition between engineers and geologists and the consequences of litigation in courts of law. Industrial paleontology is not yet at this level of formalization. This is certain to be a topic of discussion at future meetings of paleontologists.

  • What is the best approach to improving industrial paleontologic standards? The discussion group felt that attention to the client's needs, reporting interpretations considering multiple working hypotheses, and the clarification of confidence levels for each element of the data would do the most for long term quality improvement. By participating in the data-integration process, paleontologists can increase the correct integration of data on fossils and can learn about the other data types thereby enhancing their role in the integration process.

6. Facilitation and Integration.

  • What is the most important role for industrial paleontologists? To be a team member. Effective integration of paleontologic data requires an awareness of the questions being addressed and the possible reinterpretations of observational data. Working alone to generate data is a basic part of paleontologic work, but the interpretation of the observations based on sample analysis must not be done in isolation. Integration of observations from different taxonomic groups will provide a better answer, but it is likely to be less uniquely interpreted. The same applies for the interpretation of the geologic consequences of various paleontological interpretations. If the paleontologists work as part of the team, they will be able to help identify the best answer from the several possible solutions to the problem. The proper use of paleontologic data and the active participation by the paleontologist as a team member is likely to lead to more paleontologic work because its value will have been clearly and correctly demonstrated.

Action Items.

Short-term Strategy.

    1. Establish a communications network between paleontologists at companies and consulting groups and individuals. This will require coordinators and corporate champions to facilitate participation. It is hoped that such a network will encourage sharing of best practices, identification of university programs meriting support, and other common issues.

    Topics to be shared could include:

    • Standards;
    • New techniques and software programs for data analysis;
    • Training and career development;
    • Workshops;
    • Case histories of best practices and economic impact of paleontology;
    • Examples of alternative interpretations to traditional analyses.

    2. Responsibility:

    • Find a host for the web page and server. The University of Houston Downtown in Texas is willing; Rich Lane is currently raising funds for purchasing the necessary hardware.
    • Mike Simmons (with help) will develop a list of industrial paleontologists; this is an ongoing effort.
    • Put our current notes on the web page as soon as possible.

Long-term Strategy.

    1. Focus effort on all aspects of training. This is envisioned at four levels.

    • Management: work toward building enough understanding of paleontological value-added to merit their support: publication of the papers presented at the Geological Society Petroleum Group conference on Biostratigraphy in Production and Development Geology (Mike Simmons and Bob Jones, editors) will provide a set of case histories. Additionally, the Houston-based Industry Biostratigraphic Coordinators Group has initiated a coordinated effort to convey directly to exploration and production managers the value-added by stratigraphic paleontology in the petroleum industry.
    • Industrial geoscientists: develop short courses for hands-on learning of paleontologic basics for nonpaleontologists to facilitate the integration process; SEPM and AAPG each have one such course but others are needed.
    • Potential new-hires: use summer fellowships and internships for on-the-job experience developing an awareness of industry career potential; this is already beginning to happen but needs to be advertised.
    • University faculty: provide research money and summer fellowships focused toward building an alliance for high quality stratigraphic paleontology: this is perhaps the most difficult initiative, and is largely depended on the success of item a. above, building credibility with management as to the necessity for biostratigraphy.

    2. To achieve these long-term objectives in the current market, industry needs to focus support on centers for stratigraphic paleontology excellence, such as the Louisiana State University Center for Excellence in Palynology, the Aberdeen University professorship in industrial paleontology, and the City College of London program in biostratigraphy.

Panpaleontological Issues.

Four issues were considered to be shared with the global paleontological community.

  • A common voice for the global paleontological community would enhance our effectiveness.
  • An inventory of clearly defined, value-added case histories would help communicate the economic and scientific impact of paleontology.
  • In presenting our results we should recognize the limitations of our data and acknowledge that integration of paleontologic data with other data sets can lead to a best solution.

Effective communication needs to build on a training program focused toward:

  1. Paleontologists, to broaden our own knowledge of seismic and wireline-log interpretation, thus enabling us to communicate with our co-workers;
  2. Our clients, both fellow geoscientists and managers;
  3. The next generation of geoscientists, most especially stratigraphic paleontologists.


The senior author thanks both the co-authors for insightful suggestions to the original draft and for their global perspective. The participants in the discussion at Senckenberg helped broaden the authors' perspectives by providing insight into the academic, governmental, and consulting communities. Rachel Rosen, Mike Simmons, Rick Becker, and Ron Morin reviewed the manuscript. The final text is the responsibility of John Armentrout, who acknowledges permission to publish from Mobil Technology Corporation.


American Association of Petroleum Geologists. 1996. Membership information published in the Explorer.

Armentrout, John M. 1997. Industrial paleontology into the 21st century: International Senckenberg Conference, Abstract Volume. Kleine Senckenbergreihe, 25, 55-68.

Dix, Fred. 1996. Executive director column. American Association of Petroleum Geologists. The Explorer, 8, 3.

Edwards, John D. 1997. Crude oil and alternate energy production forecasts for the twenty-first century: the end of the hydrocarbon era. American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Bulletin, 81/8, 1292-1305.

Fox, Loren. 1997. Help wanted: oil-industry professionals. Wall Street Journal. December 26, 1997.

Holbrook, John. 1997. Career potential in the sciences, geology in the high schools, and why would anyone major in geology anyway? Palaios, 12/6, 1-2.

Katz, Barry Jay. 1996. 1996 Report on the status of academic geoscience departments. American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Research Committee Report, 6 p. and 10 figs.

Leffingwell, Harry A. 1994. Reinvigorating industrial micropaleontology. American Paleontologist, 2/1, 1-4.

Milling, Marcus. 1995. Statistics on United States geoscience student enrollment. American Geological Institute. Washington, D.C. Chart.

Smith, Arthur L. 1996. Industry employment trends. Arthur L. Smith, CFA, Abilene, Texas.

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