From the President - January 2014

From the President - January 2014 by Barry Katz

A New Year's Resolution or Two

Let me begin by wishing Happy New Year to one and all! With the New Year we find ourselves making a series of resolutions and promises. As you assemble your list, I would like you to consider adding two items that I have included on mine, which relate back to themes that are often presented in my columns – volunteerism and continuous learning.


First, resolve to volunteer some time at a school and talk about geology in general, the energy business, and geology as a career. Each January and May, I volunteer at the elementary school where my older daughter teaches. I spend a day talking with the 5th grade students. It is amazing what a few slides, rock samples, and experiments can do! The kids seem to really enjoy learning about how rocks and oil are formed, why earthquakes happen, how mountains form, and where the dinosaurs went. At my daughter’s request, this year I will be focusing on the formation of rocks. If you take me up on this challenge be prepared to answer all types of questions, because they always want to know more. Some of their questions are not technical but focus on how long I went to school and how much money I make. I answer the first question and defer the on the second.

Second, resolve to learn something new this year. We are never too old to expand our knowledge. There are many ways we can approach learning, but this is not a passive process. HGS provides excellent opportunities through meetings, conferences, and short courses for its members. For example, consider attending next month’s Mudrocks Conference (February 17-18) “Integrated approaches to unconventional reservoir assessment and optimization” or the Annual AAPG Convention and Exhibition in April, which the HGS will be hosting. At the convention, HGS will be sponsoring two short courses – “Shale Reservoir Evaluation” and “Introduction to Geohazards Assessment.” Consider attending those as well. For more in depth learning, I recommend that you consider presenting or publishing a paper.

The preparation of a paper provides an opportunity not only for delving into a subject’s background but allows one to move the science forward. A paper also presents an opportunity for peerreview, which helps to clarify and strengthen one’s thoughts. Personally, this year I plan on presenting at least one new paper on the anatomy of a source rock.

The New Year also represents the mid-point of my term in office and I would like to provide a brief look-back. There are a number of highlights to focus on. HGS in association with ARMA (American Rock Mechanics Association) held our first Geomechanics Conference – “Interdisciplinary Micro to Macroscale Geomechanics.” The four oral sessions and three poster sessions were heard by over 250 attendees at the conference. HGS held eighteen dinner and luncheon meetings since September, with several filling the meeting room, including Art Berman’s talk “Let’s be Honest about Shale Gas” and the R.E. Sheriff Lecture by Cindy Yeilding’s “What a Difference a Few Decades Makes: Exploration History of the US Gulf of Mexico Deepwater” where registration hit 200. Through mid-November there were more than 900 seats filled at these meetings. The HGS Golf Tournament was held at the Kingwood Country Club. The Outreach Committee held a series of successful events associated with Earth Science Week. The Board and office team also spent considerable time and energy dealing with membership rolls and what may be done to further increase the membership, including the conversion of student members to active members. As part of this process, inactive members were contacted and about 900 returned to active membership mid-way through November. Policies and procedures were also examined and we continue to make great strides toward a more business-like approach. Part of this has been a streamlining of the committee structure. The Society’s finances have been better than expected. Our expenses have been less than projected and our revenue has been greater than expected. There was also considerable discussion on procedures for elections. The Board has approved some minor changes and these will be brought forward to the membership with the regular election ballot. The major change proposed dealing with the number of candidates for each office was not approved and will not be brought forward to the membership for a vote.

And now a look forward. There is still half a year left and things are lining up to ensure that it will also be quite a busy six months. In addition to the Society’s regular monthly meetings, the second half of the year will include the Mudrocks Conference, the Annual AAPG Convention, and the Grand Canyon Field trip. “A Night at the Museum” will be held as part of the AAPG Convention and will be used as a fund-raising event for the two HGS scholarship funds. Please consider attending and/or sponsorship of the event. HGS will be publishing the “Field Guide to Late Cretaceous Geology of the Big Bend Region” by Roger W. Cooper and Dee Ann Cooper. Also on the calendar are several of the social activities that the membership has come to look forward to including Guest Night, the Tennis Tournament, and the Skeet Shoot. Look for more on these items and others as the year progresses.

Until next month…





Barry Katz
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
From the President