“One doesn’t hunt for Easter Eggs any more…”

An interview with Heloise Lynn

Coordinated by: Satinder Chopra | Photos courtesy: Vince Law
Heloise Lynn

Heloise Lynn, SEG/AAPG 2004 Fall Distinguished Lecturer, spoke on “The Winds of Change: Anisotropic Rocks... their preferred direction of fluid flow and their associated seismic signatures...”, in Calgary on October 19, 2004. It was a cold day, with Calgary getting the snow for the first time this fall and Heloise arrived well in time for her talk, taking the first morning flight from Edmonton, where she had delivered the same talk the day before. Her lecture was very well received by the audience and a recorded web cast of her talk is also available on the CSEG and SEG web sites. Heloise was more than happy to share some of her experiences and thoughts with us after her lecture and thanks to her, the interview became a relaxed, pleasant and an interesting discussion. Following are excerpts from the interview.

Let me begin by asking you about your educational background and your work experience.

My educational background is a Bachelor’s in Geology/Math from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1975; my Master in Exploration Geophysics is from Stanford University (Dec., 1977), and my PhD in Reflection Seismology, Geophysics, from Stanford University was completed Dec. 1979. …Recently, my (former) major professor, George Thompson, told me that no geophysics student at Stanford (in his memory) had ever completed a PhD in less time than my record. I replied, well I was blessed to have had the best advisors! (Prof. Jon Claerbout and Prof. George Thompson were my advisors.)…and I did work very hard!!

My work experience is that I processed onshore seismic data for Texaco from June, 1975 – August, 1976, in Bellaire, Houston, Texas. Then, I worked for Amoco from Jan. 1980 – June 84. In 1984, Walter (my husband) and I had our first child and I became a working consultant three months after Justin’s birth. For the past 20 years, I have been a consultant, or “free-lance technology agent”!

Yours is a well known name when it comes to talking about fractures, anisotropy and multi-component techniques. How does it feel to be considered an expert?

I feel honored to be considered an expert. In retrospect, anybody who works 24 years in a field and survives to still work these days, is likely to have picked up some useful insights and skills along the way. I am but one of many people in the industry who have extensively studied anisotropy and multicomponent seismology. The “context of our community”, a key theme within my Distinguished Lecture, applies in many dimensions: work, science, play, theology, etc. The community of anisotropists is vibrant, wherein I have learned so much from my colleagues. While it is true that I have worked in anisotropy for many years, there is still so much to learn that I feel that I am still growing, expanding and trying. I believe that all of us are together in our search for more knowledge and more information and better ways to understand our seismic data. Moreover, I am lucky to be able to share with interested folks the historical continuity, or memory of how our field developed – so that there is a minimum of “re-inventing the wheel.” So, in a nutshell, it’s a wonderful feeling to be noticed and to be acknowledged as having worked in the field for “a donkey’s age”, but there is so much more to do that I still feel that we are all still going up the learning curve.

You worked for Amoco first and then you opened your own consultancy. What made you decide that?

Amoco is a good company, I mean, was a good company ( they’re not exactly around any more). I am very happy I worked there for 4 ? years. However, in June of 1984, when Justin was born, Amoco granted a six week maternity leave and then said “work full time or quit” – so I quit. At the time it was a bit of a shock to my world-view to quit, because I was only 4? years out of Stanford and I was still the “red-hot postdoc going to set the world on fire”! Looking back, I know I was very blessed to be able to go through the classic “Who am I, if I am not doing the “X” , that I define myself to be, that is, geophysics?” at such an early age. The classic trap of self-identity tied up with doing a specific work, with subsequent cessation of doing the work, yields the perceived self-worth of zero. It took about 3 months to put my head back together again. The good news is I was only 30 years old at the time, so I was pretty resilient! Eventually, I decided that as a human being I still had worth and value, even if I wasn’t doing geophysics. In the fall of 1984, Carl Savit offered me a part-time job as the ghost editor for the next edition of Dobrin’s textbook, Introduction to Geophysical Prospecting. Carl was fulfilling a promise to Milt Dobrin’s widow that the next edition would get published. That started me working part-time. Along with Dr. Ken Larner and Dr. Walter Lynn and a host of other really lucky geophysicists, I was mentored by Carl Savit. I formed the consulting company, Lynn Incorporated, with Walter in January 1985. The answer to your question is – Why did I start consulting – is that I still wanted to do geophysics part-time, but I had a small baby and then another baby rolled along in about 3 years. Then I had 2 children and so I could only do geophysics part-time.

So now that you have been consulting for about 20 years or so, do you think you made the right decision?

Oh yes, yes. Thank you for asking, yes. It feels wonderful to say I am happy that I did what I did. Of course there were things I wish I had done differently, but they had to do with raising the children—like spending more time with them!— but the geophysics-part is “without regrets”. All the parents I’ve spoken with can remember things that they wished that they would have done differently.

Tell us about some of the problems that you may have faced earlier on when you started your consultancy?

Well, because Walter, my husband, was working full-time and has always been very well employed and happy and successful, I never had to contend with the money part. I could just do geophysics and as long as I paid all the company bills and made ends meet, and even threw some money into the household budget, everything was fine! So, Walt was pleased about that. The hard part about doing the geophysics was simply just staying plugged in to the network, like taking time to go to the conferences and keeping up the fabric of colleagues. Because I have always greatly enjoyed tennis, horseback riding, bicycling, swimming, roller-blading, hiking, and golf, I had to carve out the time from exercise and playing in order to maintain the investment in the geophysical community. My family considers me to be a “hard- core athletic junkie,” I suspect…. To start up a consultancy, I recommend that the person have a core-expertise to which clients revert to obtain quality analysis.

So you had enough projects to keep you going all the time?

For the most part. There was one slow spell of about a month or two in like ‘87 or ’88, and in that slow spell of no clients, I wrote a paper for Geophysics. It was the one on field data measurements of shear-wave splitting (azimuthal anisotropy) in the top 100 meters of the San Francisco Bay muds. Those good old “knee-deep muds” showed shear wave birefringence. (Knee-deep muds are muds in which you sink to your knees if you stand in them.) I had found some field data that had never been published. The author, Bruce Redpath, was willing to work with me on the paper, and he was happy to be a co-author and have it published in Geophysics. I believe that this paper was key in bringing in subsequent work, specifically, the Dept. of Energy projects that started up in the early 90’s on the seismic characterization of naturally fractured gas reservoirs. Dr. Richard Bates contacted me to be on his team, for these DOE projects. That part of my career is one of my happiest memories. The joy of working with good people cannot be underestimated.

Could you share with us some of your most memorable experiences in your professional life.

Let’s see, that would be the gladdest memory, or the time that I was the most pleased to be able to be doing what I was doing. You have asked a very good question. I compliment you, because to find the right answer, one has to have the right question. So to ask the good question is more than half the battle.

Satinder (left) and Heloise Lynn (right)

So, one memorable event that I remember was when I was invited to be the key note speaker of the International Workshop in Seismic Anisotropy in Norway. That was where I met Rob Vestrum. At our luncheon today, Rob mentioned that he went to Trondheim, Norway, to the International Workshop in Seismic Anisotropy wherein I was the key note speaker. Rob said that he felt I encouraged him to pursue his investigation, and of course he has done very well. He has developed insightful, creative means to handle seismic data, and so there you are. Delivering the key note address allowed me to share some thoughts, as an independent neutral player, so to speak. I was not in a big contractor company, nor in a big oil company, nor in a big research consortium, nor in a big University. I like being a neutral independent agent evaluating all the ideas and software, looking about for what works the best. I can evaluate what people are talking about and doing and then I can go with the best choice at a given time.

Yes, I know. What had been the most difficult challenge in your professional life?

That’s another good question! I think that the most difficult challenge is “to stay healthy and be fit”, or you can say, “to be healthy and stay fit”. The professional duties and life try to hornswoggle us into neglecting our health and fitness, and that is a bad trap. Being healthy and being fit are complementary but they are different, because somebody can be healthy but not fit.

Can someone be fit and not healthy?

Well, Peter Cary just got back from his African experience and he is fit, but he was sick, because he got a bug! Once he threw off the bug, then he was healthy and fit! So actually one of my favorite questions is “do you have what it takes to stay healthy and be fit?” because that is a challenge, a really “in your face” challenge, which does means different things to different people. When someone asks, “do you have what it takes?”, and looks you straight in the eye, some people’s hackles rise up and the people say “sure, you know I can do it!” There’s nothing like throwing down a gauntlet to see what happens next….

I wish to hear your comments in terms of your profession, what were the most difficult problems that you had to tackle; it takes a person’s heart to be engaged all the time. How did you solve all those problems and things like that? So if you could comment on what was that?

One that I remember as very, very challenging was back in 1981 when I was working for Amoco, when Amoco had collected the 2D crossing-lines SH-SH reflection data sets from Pennsylvania. That area is called Devil’s Elbow. I was assigned to process and interpret this field dataset. This dataset showed that the shear wave traveltimes had a dynamic mistie at the tiepoint (after NMO and stack). The reflection lines lay in the principal planes of the anisotropy. One line was S1- S1 reflection in one azimuth and the other line was S2- S2 reflection data. At the tiepoint, there was a time variant mis-tie. This was the first example of shear wave splitting in reflection seismic field data that I had ever come across in my geophysical career. I had studied the papers of Amos Nur who had documented the velocities in granite under unequal horizontal stresses. He had documented the shear wave birefringence in the fractured granite under unequal horizontal stresses. I presented the field data results in the light of shear wave splitting at an internal Amoco Research Meeting. The managers asked me, “have you talked to anybody in research about this?” and I said “no”, and so they said we think you should talk to Leon Thomsen and Rusty Alford. And so I did. It turned out that it was still possible to interpret the data with the fractures running the wrong direction, which is what I did, so there was a fair bit of argument over which way the fractures were running. But finally I came around to Leon and Rusty’s way of thinking about it and decided that their interpretation was better than my interpretation. It turns out that polarization azimuth is more important than propagation azimuth, for the traveltimes of the moved-out-stacked data: to me at that time, this conclusion was not intuitively obvious. They were pleased that I had stopped arguing with them. Your question also implies: How does one stay enthusiastic and focused. My answer is that anisotropy is like intellectual gymnastics: suppleness, balance, strength, and endurance are needed if one doesn’t want to go splat on the floor. (Endurance riding, on horseback, is my favorite sport…)

I do anisotropy to stay fit and be healthy. However, what really floats my boat is 3D visualization of N-dimensional numbers, that change with time…

Now what do you do to keep up the progress in your field of specialization?

I stay current by working with field data and going to conferences. The International Workshop on Seismic Anisotropy (IWSAs) are held every two years, mostly because it takes us two years to recover from an IWSA. The next IWSA will be in Beijing. The Edinburgh Anisotropy group led by Dr. Xiangjang Li is leading the effort of hosting the next IWSA. …There is also the 2nd Rainbow in the Earth, which focuses upon frequency-dependent anisotropy, coming up in August 2005. I also read the journals, Geophysics and Geophysical Prospecting. The Canadian SEG always has a good meeting. You know, you guys are very technologically advanced and the CSEG is THE community of aggressive- technology people.

For the information of our members, and I know you touched upon it in detail in your talk, let me ask you about the azimuthal anisotropy. How important is it, how geographically wide spread is it, and is it really important in the marine environment also?

Azimuthal anisotropy is widespread: nearly all 3D wide-azimuth reflection data show azimuthal variations. The widespread azimuthal anisotropy arises from unequal horizontal stresses and/or vertical aligned fractures. To have sedimentary rocks with totally equal horizontal stresses is VERY unusual. To have sedimentary rocks with NO vertical aligned fractures is VERY unusual. I know of only one place on earth, in the Midland Basin, Texas, that has been proven to be only layer- anisotropy (TIV) (transverse isotropy with a vertical axis): Francis Muir is associated with this work. The greater the difference between the max and min horizontal stresses, the more pronounced the PP azimuthal anisotropy. If anybody has collapsing boreholes, then they ought to consider recording 3D PP (&PS) full-azimuth full-offset data to predict (ahead of drilling) whether your boreholes will collapse or hold up. If you are looking at earthquake seismology or mantle or crust, the observed azimuthal anisotropy may arise from aligned grains as well, but we don’t think we see that so much in sedimentary basins. With multi-component bottom cables we can measure it in the marine setting; with multi- component bottom cables we can collect 3D 4C full-azimuth full-offset which is the prerequisite for azimuthal anisotropy studies. In any place that anyone that needs to know about the unequal horizontal stress field and/or the vertically aligned connected porosity that flows fluid through it, then the azimuthal variation in the seismic signature ought to be studied…. Furthermore, time-lapse studies can document the changes in the pressures, the stress, the fluid-distributions and the crack populations.

How does azimuthal anisotropy affect the seismic data? After we collect the seismic data, how do we go about looking for azimuthal anisotropy?

In the acquisition stage, one does well to orient source and receiver lines skew to the expected earth coordinate system. In this fashion, any acquisition footprint parallel to the source or receiver lines is misaligned with the geologic features that we wish to map. Secondly, the way that you would go about looking for azimuthal anisotropy in data processing is: at first you solve all of your (refraction) statics problems (ask your data, “do you have azimuthally variant refraction velocities?”), do one pass velocities, one pass of statics and move-out all the data with the approximately correct NMO. If there is coherent noise, you would want to remove it. We apply spherical divergence and a surface consistent amplitude correction in case there are local pockets of hot or dim sources or hot or dim receivers. Then form azimuth gathers (0-360 degrees) to see if there is an azimuthal variation in travel time and AVO and wavelet character (phase). This super gather is formed from 3x3 or 5x5 CMP bins, and we sort the gathers from 0 to 360. Next we do partial stacking in azimuth sectors to make the fold be even across the offsets, because you want the same S/N (from fold) in each of the traces. Then you look for azimuthal variation of every 90 degrees, it will be fast to slow to fast to slow (as you make a 360-degree circle), provided that you have flat layers and vertical fractures (that is, the tri-axial stress field has two of the stress axes lying in the horizontal plane). Next, you look to see if the amplitude variations are lined up with the travel time variations because, in principle that the AVOaz anomalies could be mis-aligned to the velocity variation by azimuth. It would be a bit bizarre but in principle it could happen. It has to do with the cause of the anomaly.

Heloise Lynn

If the cause of the anomaly is the same, then I think they will be aligned. If the cause of the anomaly is different, then they don’t have to be aligned. Dr. Mark Chapman of the Edinburgh Anisotropy Project has just presented some results (2004 SEG/EAGE Summer Research Workshop at Vancouver, Canada) wherein he showed that in media with connected aligned porosity that flows fluids in a certain direction, the bright direction is at 45 degrees to the fast direction (the crack azimuth). This throws a major monkey wrench into the interpretation of PP multi-azimuth field data, but if he is right, then we need to alter the way we view the data. We will need the four azimuth sectors (0- 180 degrees); or the eight azimuth sectors (0-360 degrees), depending upon whether or not you believe that Hatchell (2000 Geophysics) is wrong or right (respectively). I believe that Hatchell is right. We always ask the question, is the bright direction the fast direction or not. Usually it is. Typically the fast direction has less scattering, has less attenuation and just generally has better signal than the slow direction, but it doesn’t have to, it could be different. In a hundred square miles survey, you would want at least , ten or twenty samples of the super gathers, in which they would be located at good wells, at bad wells, at near faults, and away from faults.

If you have an east-west fault for example and your 3D data has illuminated it in the two orthogonal directions, parallel and perpendicular, as per conventional wisdom, that fault will be imaged more clearly in the perpendicular-to-fault azimuth. The faults or fractures that are perpendicular to the raypath affect the traveltimes and amplitudes.

Right, yes, the ray paths cross the fault or fractures are more sensitive to the presence of fractures, which can reduce the clarity of the seismic image, unless you compensate for them.

Now in your, Geophysics paper by Grimm, yourself and others you do mention there, that faults or fractures in the parallel direction can also stand out due to (less) scattering. I am wanting to get your comments on this? Is it really common?

That is a good question, I am glad you brought that up. The east-west direction might show up as less azimuthal scattering or the dispersion, but this is a “research” topic. Most geophysicists don’t like scattering for it looks like “random noise”.

That paper was published in about 1999 I think.

Right, so in the last 5 years or 8 years since the work was done I think that more insight, more knowledge, has come to light and I think that people these days are more inclined to look for the dispersion across, or the scattering across, but not parallel.

Good, I just wanted to confirm that. When we are mapping off the different PP azimuths, think about 90 or 45 degree sectors. Unless you do 45 degree sectors in azimuthal velocity analysis, you won’t see the finer changes in the velocity that we are looking in different azimuth directions. So, you do need an accurate tool or technique to determine the azimuthal variation in velocity to, distinguish the faults or fractures in different azimuthal directions. What is your comment on that?

Thank you for pointing out a key point and you are absolutely right. First of all, PP azimuth-sectoring and prestack time migrations are being done to get very sensitive velocity fields. Secondly, 45 degree PP sectors are the typical minimum requirement in the azimuth sectoring and a finer azimuth sectoring allows you to better discern what is happening. I prefer to load up my gathers inside Mark Sun’s Genetek Earthworks™ workstation because I can then scan the PP gathers over azimuth. I can change the two (orthogonal) azimuth sectors evaluated. I can make the azimuth sector 20 degrees wide or 40 degrees wide or 90, and then I can change the off-set binning dimension and it’s all done on the fly—in real time. So you are absolutely correct that to find the fast azimuth and the slow azimuth it is necessary to experiment with smaller azimuth sectors and then decide which way looks fast and which way looks slow.

Heloise Lynn

It must be something like the slide you showed today, you have binned the gathers in 10 degree azimuth-sectors and you see the changes in velocity that are apparent are on the far offsets on the NMO corrected gathers.

Yes, that’s right. So in the Grimm paper and the Rulison paper and the Wind River Project 3D, our azimuth gathers were formed from 0 to 180 at 10 degree segments and that’s fine. These days I prefer to look at 0 – 360 degrees. (Hatchell 2000 Geophysics is telling us something we need to pay attention to.)

Let me get your comment on why is it that even though people have done a lot of work on azimuthal anisotropy and even other forms of anisotropy, it is still not so commonly practiced? What is keeping us from doing that; is it the lack of tools or is it expensive, or what?

Well, if one collects a narrow azimuth 3D survey the sources and receivers are only in one azimuth sector, you will never see the azimuthal variation. Only if a company realizes that they need wide illumination and they need wide azimuth then they will go out and shoot the data wide azimuth. The wide azimuth, when processed to account for the azimuthal anisotropy, can provide better images of the subsurface. Now, having shot the data wide azimuth then you are in a position to capture the anisotropy through appropriate processing, so we are now talking education, enabling the workers to realize the signal that’s contained in the azimuthal variation. Whether narrow azimuth or wide-azimuth 3D is collected depends upon the goals for the 3D dataset. Some people collect 3D only to make time-structure maps. That’s it. (Let us pause to shake our heads in disbelief and in sorrow.) Other people collect 3D wide-azimuth in order to map structure AND characterize the vertical aligned fractures and/or the unequal horizontal stress fields (the lateral variations therein). So it depends on the play. If the play is simply to find the sand, and not the shale, then it could be a PPAVO far off-set reflectivity and multicomponent 3D dataset. Suppose the sand and the shale have the same acoustic impedance but they have a different VP/VS ratio, so then you might use multi-component (P-S, or the “C-wave”, the wave that mode converts from P to S upon reflection) to see the sand. One would also look at whether PP-AVO can help you. So the bottom line is the type of play determines what tools you use. Azimuthal anisotropy is used if there is a preferred direction of fluid flow because of aligned connected porosity. If unequal horizontal stresses are affecting the performance of the reservoir and the owner of the field wants to map the distribution of the horizontal stress fields, then the azimuthal anisotropy should be mapped (traveltimes and amplitudes). Further questions that time-lapse 3D wide-azimuth can address are how do the min- and the max- horizontal stress fields change with time and space.

What is the direction in which research is going in this area, and do you think we should be benefiting from that in the near future?

Research is going towards co-rendering higher and higher dimensional data sets. The four basic quantities that seismic measures are PP traveltimes, PP amplitude, PS traveltimes, and PS amplitudes (all of which vary by azimuth and offset). I co-render these 12 dimensional, numbers in 3D space. If I use Surfer™, then I am looking at (creating) map slices through that 3D volume of 12 dimensional numbers. This type of display of quantitative information is a form of communication that has to be taught: it’s an acquired skill to look at a 15 dimensional map or a map that contains 4 icons plus a time structure map. Each icon would have 4 numbers that are co-rendered into 1 glyph (a colored figure). If you put 3 or 4 icons on a map plus the time structure, you are looking at anywhere from 13 – 17 maps co-rendered. So, I like it because it’s a very efficient way of gathering information. I think it’s very inefficient to flip through 17 maps and try to remember what they all said. If you just put it all on one map, you come out far ahead.

Composite displays – so apart from this, is there any other direction that we are looking at?

Well, I am hoping that people will do research and development into azimuthal phase, azimuthal dispersion and azimuthal spectra because that’s a whole line of investigation, a whole body of information, that has been ignored in our industry. We are very good at processing imaging reflections. We are pretty good at doing azimuthal variation and travel time and AVO gradients with azimuth, like Veritas here in Calgary and Axis and WesternGeco. However, there is that middle ground of fracture scale lengths on the order of 1 meter to 20 meters, that cause azimuthal scattering, azimuthal dispersion, azimuthal attenuation. In this area, we just have been blind, we don’t want to see it, we don’t want to cope with it and we just erase it with trace-by-trace decon.

Okay, lets move on to another area. Much has been talked about the multi-component seismic processing and acquisition and interpretation. I remember Bob Tatham in his distinguished lecture, mentioned that the thing which is keeping us from adopting it on a regular basis,(apart from the cost, which has been coming down over the years) is the lack of multicomponent data interpretation tools. Do you agree with that?

Okay, yes, I agree with that. The interpretation of multicomponent seismic is a challenge and more and more tools are becoming available, which is a great help. For example, Hampson Russell’s ProMC™ is available and it’s a big step forward. I think that there will be more and more tools to help us interpret and model multi-component seismic. The other issue is education. If a geophysicist has always worked P-waves and then all of a sudden he or she is handed a multicomponent (PP and PS) data set, then the classic human response is to be a bit buffaloed. They could be taken a bit aback because here is that strange new beast. I think that the younger members of our community are less intimidated. I am not trying to say that the older members are more intimidated, I have to be a little careful here, but in terms of how much fire does somebody have to tackle a new and strange beast, it depends on the person, so really it doesn’t have to relate to calendar age.

What about management support for training?

Management support is critically important. There are many fine courses: Rob Stewart and Jim Gaiser’s course; Leon Thompson’s DISC course on Anisotropy; Dr. Garotta’s course on Shear waves; so there are many opportunities to learn. One really never stops learning. No matter how old one is or how long one has worked in the business, there is always something new that enables one to do better. That’s how humans react: “Oh, I (or we) can do better than that!” After a certain amount of time, some people might start feeling tired and they just would rather coast, or sit on their laurels, but unfortunately in this industry, which is always pushing the envelope, I don’t think that coasting is an option.

Have you conducted courses in the fields that you specialize in? What are they?

Yes I have. They are 1-day courses, or 3-day or 5-day courses. Lynn Incorporated has a training curriculum and offers courses privately to interested companies.

And what are the topics?

Multi-component, or multi-azimuth, or anisotropy or all of the above...

Good. Your work has been a very crucial part of your life, and I believe it is for everybody, do you get time to pursue any of your other interests?

Geophysics would gobble up of all of my time, so I must carve out time to do other activities. One is sports and exercise. Another is energy self-sufficiency for dwellings, meaning, individual families and communities could choose to use the wind and the sun for their renewable energy resources. This would enable them to get off the grid. The alternative energy sources could become a grass-roots effort, whereby the conventional hydro carbon resources become reserved for things that wind and sun can’t provide. I project that hydrocarbons will be used by our civilization for many more decades, or maybe 100 years more. However, I think that we actually are starting the post-hydrocarbon age. This may come as a shock to some people to think about this, but you asked about hobbies, and this is one of them! I think that hydrocarbons will always be needed and used for plastics and for jet fuel and various commodities, but to burn hydrocarbons in a personal transportation device —otherwise known as a car— is really counter productive. I am hoping that more and more individuals and communities will switch over to hybrid and/or electric cars, whose electricity comes from solar and wind. Then they, as Switzerland is to some extent, are un-shackled from the hydrocarbon situation. In Switzerland, the melting snow powers the hydro-electric plants, which run the trains. And yes, of course it is expensive to build the infra-structure.

The problem with solar energy is that it cannot be stored. My master’s thesis was on solar cells. So, at the time I had spent a lot of time learning about efficiency of solar cells, which is around 10 -12 percent or something like that. They are expensive and not so efficient and so cannot be used for domestic purposes. But in countries where there is abundance of sun light, people have used the sunlight for household purposes, heating water, refrigeration, solar cooking and things like that. It is interesting, I like that.

Let me ask you, if students are planning to pursue a career in the oil industry, what skills do you think are important for them to acquire so that they are prepared for a good career in the industry?

Right, that’s a good question. The skills that are needed I think for the oil and gas industry, exploration development, are geology, geophysics, engineering, math, and physics. The geology is studied to learn of the planet : how it evolved and how it operates: the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, the lithosphere, and the biosphere. The lithosphere’s sedimentary rocks exhibit stratigraphy and structure – generally interlinked! The geophysics is studied to learn how seismic waves propagate through rocks; the engineering teaches how the fluids flow through rocks. The math and the physics are the foundation to understand how the waves propagate and the fluids flow.

So, after having served in the industry for the time that you have, what would be your message for young entrants in our industry?

Well, I think that the career of exploring the crust, the earth’s crust for usable items, is a bit like looking for Easter Eggs. Right – it’s fun. But I have never met a child who didn’t like looking for Easter Eggs and so, after one grows up, one doesn’t hunt for Easter Eggs any more, but one can hunt throughout the world for various assets that are needed. Oil, uranium, gold, water, copper, aluminum, and other raw materials… We in our civilization need various raw materials and the hunt to find these raw materials is very necessary for our civilization to continue. So I think that it is fascinating to be either a geophysicist or a planetary scientist and understand or study the planet in the large picture. If I were 21 or if I were 18 again, if I knew then what I know now, then I would go and study the planet. …How the atmosphere and the lithosphere and the hydrosphere and the biosphere all interact. I am very interested in global weather change, global climate change and then how do humans cope with change in the environment. I think that in the next 50 years there will be change, political changes, global climate changes, and so a person who is 21 years old today could easily work for 50 years! He or she would need a career that is enjoyable to earn a living for 50 years. I think that the more one knows about the lithosphere, the biosphere, the atmosphere and the hydrosphere and how humans use materials to build stuff, the better off one is.

Figure 4

Okay, now the last question – your husband Walt is a well known geophysicist. What do you have to say about a geophysicist duo as a couple? Does it ever lead to an overdose of geophysics in your lives?

Well, I am a single tasking unit: I am a one-CPU person. If I am working on a given project, I just do one thing at a time. Walter is a multi-tasking unit, and so Walter can carry about four or five projects forward every day and we complement each other. It is possible to have an overdose of geophysics: so one strives to keep all things in balance, in moderation.

I feel very privileged to get to work with Walt. I call him the King of the Ordered Cosmos because he brings order where ever he goes: I, however, have the family title of the Queen of the Creative Chaos (by popular acclaim!). He is an unusual man because he has coped with living with me, for 26 years!

There is a word in the Chinese Philosophy ——-yin, yang.

Yes, that’s what we are talking about! I think that the Chinese philosophy of the Tao, the philosophy of the way, of the road, the path, is also applicable here , so I study the taoist tradition, and the Buddhist tradition, as well as the Western traditions. Rob Stewart referred to this as practicing spiritual tomography or philosophical tomography: we know as geophysicists that if you wish to illuminate a complex structure, you obtain your best image if you illuminate from all angles and all viewpoints.

Before I finish I was going to ask you, was there any question that you expected me to ask and I didn’t?

I thought that you did a fabulous job asking questions. You have covered all the topics I can think of!

Heloise, thank you very much for giving us the time to talk to you, record your thoughts and your experiences and I thank you for it.

Thank you, I appreciate the privilege to interact with you and your readers.


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