• Harvey Thorleifson, Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • Carrie Jennings, Vice Chair
    Minnesota Geological Survey
  • David Bush, Technical Program Chair
    University of West Georgia
  • Jim Miller, Field Trip Chair
    University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Curtis M. Hudak, Sponsorship Chair
    Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC


Paper No. 9
Presentation Time: 3:35 PM


KRANTZ, Robert W., Geologic Technology, ConocoPhillips, 600 N. Dairy Ashford Road, Houston, TX 77079,

Successful petroleum exploration and development relies on precise interpretation of subsurface geology, commonly based on seismic data. Traditional training methods introduce newly hired geoscientists to interpretation software and separately review geologic concepts as applied to industry goals (e.g. hydrocarbon traps in compressional fold and thrust belts).

At ConocoPhillips, we have recognized the missing component also required for interpretation success: the development and application of spatial cognitive skills and 3D thinking to subsurface geology. Although well documented and applied in academic research and education, most petroleum companies and interpretation software vendors have not fully addressed the need to consider how spatial skills impact interpreter training and performance. We have begun to include both skill assessment and development in our training courses.

Our newest course is an integrated field and work station seminar. Over a week, participants develop 3D geometric concepts and models while walking through a trap-scale fault system, and each day re-interpret the same structures in a synthetic seismic volume using standard industry software. Woven into the experience are sessions on spatial cognitive skills and interactive discussions about how participants perceive and visualize the 3D geometries.

Early results are very encouraging, and feedback from participants indicates dramatic improvements in both visualization and interpretation skills. All participants successfully completed the complex structural framework in question, with high fidelity and insight.

Meeting Home page GSA Home Page