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Taxonomy is insane/Economic Paleontology

  Rob Meyerson writes:

>The big thing that separates paleontology from the other sciences is that=
> there is no way to make money off our work (except for certian cinema types=
> and toy manufacturers).

 There are a large number of "economic" paleontologists who DO have a
very real impact on the "bottom line" of many oil companies.  We are
micropaleontologists who provide very detailed analyses of the rocks
drilled in the search for oil.  Multi-million dollar decisions are
sometimes based on biostratigraphy from these individuals. 

 In a poster presented at the last AAPG (American Association of
Petroleum Geologists) convention, DuVernay, O'Neill, Rannik & Styzen
used a case example:  Shell Oil Co's Auger field in the Gulf of
Mexico is located on the continental slope in 2900 ft of water.
A $12 million well was planned to be drilled to test a deep objective
below the proven reserves.  There was some controversy about the
possible presence of an unconformity and its effect on the sands which
were the objective of the well.

 A detailed study of the planktic and benthic foraminifera in several
nearby wells confirmed the presence of the unconformity and indicated
that the planned well would fail to find hydrocarbons.   The decision
not to drill based upon paleontology saved us about $12 million!

 Workers using foraminifera, calcareous nannoplankton, pollen and
spores, and many other types of microscopic fossils continue to support
the exploration and development of oil and gas fields.

 I'll get off my soap box now ........

      Brian J. O'Neill                    Phone:  (504) 588-4351
      Shell Offshore Inc.                 Room:   OSS-1812             
      P.O. Box 61933                      E-mail: boneill@shell.com     
      New Orleans LA  70161               Profs:  bjo5