Wednesday, September 23, 2015 AGS Luncheon

"Inspiration in Times of Challenge: Retracing the Steps of Pioneers in North Alaska Geology"

Noon Luncheon 11:30-1:00 pm

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In 1901 Frank Schrader and a USGS party set off on a geologic reconnaissance of then unmapped north Alaska.  The party planned to traverse the Brooks Range and descend the Colville River to the sea, but the return plan before freeze-up was somewhat sketchy.  In 1906 Ernest Leffingwell traveled by sea to the north coast of Alaska in search of a rumored land mass in the Arctic Ocean, only to remain there in near isolation in a cabin built from the vessel that brought him there, as his party departed.  He lived nine summers and six winters in the cabin while mapping the geography and geology of northeast Alaska, documented in a manuscript that reads not only as a geologic reference but a “how-to manual” on surviving in the Arctic.  The work of these intrepid geologists provided the basis for the first geologic map of the North Slope by Alfred Brooks.  Their dedication to science and vocation in the face of personal risk, adversity, and sacrifice is a source of inspiration to geologists.

Modern geologic successors to these early explorers, whether pursuing oil and gas, minerals, coal, or simply funding for government projects, all face professional adversity and uncertainty in 2015.  In an attempt at inspiration, this presentation centers on the aforementioned and other examples of passion for vocation at great personal sacrifice.  The examples provide a blend of Alaska geology and entertaining accounts by geologists.  Over the course of multiple field programs on the North Slope and Brooks Range I have had the opportunity to retrace the steps of some of these early geologic expeditions, albeit by modern means.  Geology and photos from my experiences are blended with historical maps, photos, and quotations for a comparison of what’s changed or not changed with the physiography as well as geologic interpretation.


Speaker: Greg Wilson, Director of Arctic Exploration and Services for ConocoPhillips Alaska

GGreg Wilson is currently Director of Arctic Exploration and Services for ConocoPhillips Alaska.  He has 25 years of oil and gas exploration experience in Alaska with ConocoPhillips and heritage companies, ARCO and Phillips.  From 2000 to 2009 Greg worked as project geologist for many of the exploration wells drilled In the NPR-A, including discoveries now on their way to development.  For an exploration geologist, few things were as gratifying as an active drilling program in the winter and a field program in the summer.  During this time Greg conducted tours for many US Senators, a Secretary of the Interior, National Directors of the BLM, and a White House panel on energy – always promoting responsible exploration of Alaska’s North Slope.
Greg has been an active member in the Alaska Geological Society, including serving as President, Vice-President, and for eight years Newsletter Editor.  In addition, he co-chaired the 2006 Joint AAPG-GSA-SPE Convention and the 2008 “Prudhoe at 40” AGS Technical Conference.  He has received a Distinguished Service Award from the Pacific Section of AAPG in 2011.  Greg was an adjunct lecturer at Alaska Pacific University for five years.  His PhD in Geology is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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