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Abstract: Your Environmental Challenge as a Geologist

Bernold M. Hanson

Many scientific environmental studies involving geology are now becoming apparent. If we can convince the regulatory agencies to take advantage of our geologic knowledge to assess environmental problems, many unnecessary mandates can be modified.

Isn't it strange that Mt. Erebus in the Antarctic pumps over 1000 tons of chlorine directly into the vortex of the earth every day and has for over 100 yr, yet man and chlorofluorocarbons are being blamed for the ozone hole and global warming.

Recent ice cores have been recovered in Greenland that date back 250,000 yr. This scientific study indicated that the climate in the northern hemisphere has always been cyclic.

The U.S. Geological Survey has recently completed a study of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and has found Monterey oil residues are more prevalent than the North Slope oil. The Monterey oil is present as a result of the 1994 Alaska earthquake. Also, current activity by fishing boats is polluting much of the Prince William Sound.

Geologists have studied the effects of road de-icing in the northeast and have reported that there is substantial evidence that the millions of tons of salt placed on the highways are contributing to underground water pollution. Yet we in the oil industry are being challenged by environmental groups that think putting produced saltwater back into disposal wells is contaminating and polluting the country. We need a level playing field.

How can all this help a petroleum geologist? To be competitive in today's business, we must take advantage of opportunities to learn about other subdisciplines of our profession. Many geologists are in a survival mode and additional education and training are necessary if we are to survive.

There are only a few areas in which geologists can apply their knowledge to environmental problems. Technical transfers from hydrocarbon extraction to environmental assessment can be undertaken if there is a desire to change. Re-education can be achieved by an optimistic, aggressive, and disciplined individual. The ball is in your court.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90983©1994 GCAGS and Gulf Coast SEPM 44th Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas, October 6-7, 1994