By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, Mar. 20�Future geophysicists will apply the skills and technology developed for oil and gas exploration to environmental, engineering, infrastructure development, and other industries yet unimagined, said Walt Lynn, president-elect of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, in Houston Tuesday.
�A lot of our employment may be in those industries in the future� as the scope of geophysics broadens, said Lynn, who also is senior vice-president of technology marketing for Petroleum Geo-Services ASA, Houston.
Speaking at the 30th annual meeting of the International Association of Geophysical Contractors, he said the division among subsurface disciplines will blur with growing cooperation among industries and the overlapping use of technology.
The mathematical principles of digital imaging are the same, whether it�s used to explore underground geology or the human brain, Lynn said. Imaging seminars are already drawing representatives from the petroleum, medical, and space industries for �cross-pollination� of concepts and applications of that technology.
SEG officials have drafted a study that tries to imagine what the geophysical industry may be like 30 years in the future, Lynn said. Among the things considered in that study is cooperation and even possible mergers of �subsurface societies� such as SEG and IAGC, he said.
Both organizations are looking to develop relationships with other industry groups to improve their effectiveness in representing their members and the oil and gas industry on various issues.
Such a move could result in limited cooperation on mutual key issues, a combination of annual meetings, or the formation of yet another entity, Lynn said.
It�s also possible that some producers and/or service companies may form special �consortia� to finance and direct long-term research and development by university scientists.
�Long-term R&D today is done in universities, if it�s done at all,� said Lynn. �A principal factor in long-term research is the freedom to fail, but companies don�t have that luxury of failure anymore. They must concentrate on the development aspect.�
But universities also have problems. �Their staffs are shrinking and their aims are changing,� Lynn said.