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Lentic jeff and other bugs

Biostratigraphy is a specialized niche within the petroleum industry. I would venture to claim that it is the most specialized discipline within this diverse industry. Perhaps this is why biostratigraphy (and palaeontology in general) is not well understood by most of our non-biostratigrapher colleagues. This misunderstanding led to the nicknames of Bug Guy/Bug Boy — and I assume Bug Gal/Bug Girl although I have never heard these names used — given to us by non-biostratigraphers (e.g. drilling engineers, geophysicists, etc.), and creative shorthand nomenclature given to various species and useful biostratigraphic events (e.g. Rob E, Big hum, Cib carst, etc). Much of this informal but unique nomenclature was created and adopted several decades ago by companies exploring the US Gulf Coast, and many of these biostratigraphic schemes or zonations have since been published or otherwise formalized among the petroleum companies. The role of the Bug People in trying to decipher the many amusing biostratigraphic names I think is worthy of mention.

The history of palaeontology in the energy industry dates back to the early 1920s, when most major petroleum companies were employing palaeontologists to create subsurface well correlations. Around this time (early to mid 1920s), the first biostratigraphy related publications began appearing in petroleum geology journals and this exposure aided in the establishment of biostratigraphy as a crucial discipline and tool within the petroleum industry of the Gulf Coast. Throughout the decades, staff in the many oil companies constructed unique biostratigraphic names and codes for the primary events being used as stratigraphic horizons and applied to the correlation of key reservoir intervals. As the taxonomy of foraminifera was well understood at the onset of Gulf Coast hydrocarbon exploration, they became the primary microfossil group used for biostratigraphy in relatively shallow water environments and across the continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, many of the abbreviated and interesting biostratigraphic events focused around species of foraminifera. As these unique monikers were derived by internal staff, each company had their own in-house biostratigraphic scheme. So the same biostratigraphic event usually had several different aliases, which ensured many years of confusion.

As well reports were shared through partnerships (for example on field development projects), geologists became aware of the excessive variation among horizon names and reservoir units. In the mid-1980s, to further trouble and complicate the issue, as a result of falling oil prices the number of internal staff biostratigraphers within the major petroleum companies was drastically reduced. This period marked a frenzy of employment activity among industry biostratigraphers, as most former staff biostratigraphers sought careers in the consulting realm. Several major petroleum companies maintained at least one staff biostratigrapher to act as de-coder of the various biostratigraphic schemes, but staff were primarily responsible for coordinating projects for consultants, performing quality control on biostratigraphic interpretations of various datasets, and providing some degree of internal stratigraphic support.

When performing project work or wellsite support, a consultant would, naturally enough, apply the unique biostratigraphic scheme that he or she used or helped create while internally employed at an oil company. The influx of consultants following this work model during the mid-1980s to late 1990s ensured complete disorder and confusion within the Gulf of Mexico biostratigraphic nomenclature and Gulf of Mexico-related biostratigraphy. Thankfully the Gulf Coast Taxonomic Equivalency Project was created in 1999 to help with the clean-up of existing foraminifera-based biostratigraphic nomenclature throughout the region. The main result of this work was a taxonomic synonym table, which to this day allows incoming staff biostratigraphers to work more efficiently and relatively pain-free.

Since the 1990s, hydrocarbon exploration has advanced further into the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The enhanced usefulness and biostratigraphic superiority of calcareous nannofossils became evident when drilling these deepwater wells. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which side you are on), species of calcareous nannofossils were not typically renamed or abbreviated by nonbiostratigraphers. This may be because species names within the group are not as easy to nickname, or maybe the times of creative naming had passed. Regardless, the calcareous nannofossil species that were abbreviated are amusing, but the foraminifera names possess the most entertainment value.

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Maps are interpretations

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