The primary objective of this course is to emphasise the key role in several areas of geoscience that biostratigraphy plays within E & P.
Like Darwinism, biostratigraphy has its origins in the 19th Century. It provided the basis for subdivision of periods and epochs of the Phanerozoic. Intensive biostratigraphical research over 150+ years has led to the recognition of all the currently utilised geological stages, based on detailed study of strato-type sections throughout the world. And like Darwinism too, biostratigraphy remains a modern, proven and up to date philosophical discipline, underpinned by many decades of cross-comparison and calibration as more rock units are studied or become available from on-going worldwide drilling activities.
The industrial biostratigraphy community maintains close links with academic colleagues and there are a very wide range of peer reviewed periodicals and conferences where new findings are shared worldwide. Contracted industrial biostratigraphy taps an exploration programme into this continuously updated, refined and modernised world geological knowledge repository.
Over the 150+ year history of the industrial petroleum sector, some wonderful technologies have been developed for remote recognition of structure and stratigraphy in the subsurface. Key amongst these are 1) the wealth of downhole electric logging methods and tools; and 2) the enormous advances in seismic processing and resolution. These technologies have brought into sharp view features that remain mute and unknowable without detailed geological and biostratigraphical analyses of physical rock specimens.
Biostratigraphy remains the sole practical method of attaching names with accurate ages and palaeoenvironments to coloured seismic reflectors and wireline log units with their bounding stratal surfaces. Huge amounts of data can be obtained from even the smallest amount of drill cuttings material, from a range of different lithofacies.
It is not uncommon to hear within exploration departments that biostratigraphy is not well understood. Even that it is not fully valued when it is already unpinning all the geological knowledge of a given licence area or exploration prospect. Biostratigraphy can sometimes be wrongly side-lined out of geology into an academic branch of the biological sciences, with all its myriad of complicated and sometimes daunting taxonomy and formal Latinised species nomenclature.
The latter aspects remain largely within the realm of the specialist and does not form a predominant component of this course that dwells mainly with the essential part biostratigraphy plays for geoscience asset teams in sub surface problem solving.