DENNIS ELLISON
SENIOR PRINCIPAL GEOPHYSICIST, ASPENTECH AND PRESIDENT OF CSEG

DENNIS.ELLISON@ASPENTECH.COM

I am humbly writing this article with the mantle that comes with being the President of the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG). I am proud of the CSEG and consider it an honour to be a member. I grew up in Calgary and was surprisingly unaware of the Oil & Gas community. During my youth, geophysics held no significance for me – it could have been anything, as it didn’t even register as a concept in my mind or a word in my vocabulary.

However, as I entered University I was guided as if by an unseen hand toward it. A journey of discovery and fulfillment, not yet to be revealed to me. Through conversations with professors and students I was gripped with curiosity about the potential of geophysics. I found a home for my unconstrained imaginings of the world I sought to understand. Through the crucible of education and networking, I felt ready to claim the title of ‘Geophysicist’ as my own. How naïve was I?!

In my first few years, I was continually reminded of what I didn’t know. Fortunately, due to committed managers and mentors, as well as motivating processors and interpreters, I consistently received support, encouragement, and guidance. I attended DoodleTrain courses, CSEG luncheons, Lunchbox Geophysics talks, GeoConvention, DoodleSpiel, T-Wave, workshops, symposiums, lectures, Distinguished Lecturer events, and more. Many, if not all, were provided in full or in part by the CSEG and its community. By people. By professors and students. By managers and mentors. By processors and interpreters. By us. For us.

It was a home. My home. My place. My people. My CSEG.

I loved it. Despite these past and many difficult years, I still love it. I am still proud of the CSEG. My CSEG.

As the years continue, it’s easier to number those who remain from my graduating class than those who have moved to other careers, whether by plan or by push. But I have felt closer to those who do remain. Those who cannot withdraw from their vocation of ‘Geophysicist’. We remain. The people are still here. The professors and students. The managers and mentors. The processors and interpreters. We have survived. We are here and because we are here, the CSEG is here. I also see now that this is not just my CSEG, but this is also your CSEG. This is our CSEG.

The CSEG is our community, and it’s ours to maintain or ours to lose. Doug Uffen (Uffen, 2023) eloquently gave us the visual of our community as an anchor. Many of us, especially those with more years than myself, have lost our anchors. I have pondered Doug’s query to the CSEG membership, “how do we re-build that sense of community?” How do we re-anchor ourselves?

Interestingly but unsurprisingly, we can look to history. There are many historical periods where we can find encouraging messages, Sir Winston Churchill’s words tend to be the most stirring. After WW2 when Britain needed to rebuild, he addressed its people and included the following: “Hear this, young men and women everywhere, and proclaim it far and wide. The earth is yours and the fullness thereof. Be kind, but be fierce. You are needed now more than ever before. Take up the mantle of change. For this is your time.” (Manchester and Reid, 2013)

Therefore, my fellow CSEG members, how do we respond? How will we respond? Where will we set anchor? How will we rebuild our CSEG community? While I wish to publicly answer these questions, it would be irresponsible to do so. I alone do not power this ship. I alone cannot power this ship. It requires all of us. The professors and students. The managers and mentors. The processors and interpreters. Now is our time. The burden of change is upon us.

I would be remiss in my duties to end my words here. If any are lacking ideas of in how to contribute to the CSEG, let me suggest the following three things:

  1. Read the History Page (Kuhn, 2014) found on the main website of the CSEG under Governance>History. This is an excellent compilation of the CSEG’s impact from when it started from nothing to how it grew over the next 35 years. From its humble beginnings to its growth over the following 35 years.
  2. Consider the events you’ve attended and ask yourself, “Which have I enjoyed the most?” or “What events would I miss if they never happened again?” Then consider your availability and make plans to contact the leads of those committees or groups. If you don’t know who they are, contact me and I’ll put you in touch.
  3. Which events have I not attended in recent years? is it DoodleTrain? The Luncheons? Symposium? GeoConvention? Consider attending one or more of the upcoming events.

Being a part of a community is having a support group. The CSEG started because people wanted to support each other locally and saw the “demand for increased skill, knowledge, and experience.” The last few years have left the geophysical community with a lot of knowledge gaps, as much experience has left before it was passed on. But this is our time, and we can overcome. We can mutually support and train one another to minimize the loss of knowledge. There are fewer of us today and we are required to do more. Let us regroup and relearn. As we prioritize our community and learning, we will strengthen ourselves and others.

Again, Churchill articulated to the rising generations of Britain: “Come on now, all you young [people]… Don’t be content with things as they are… Enter upon your inheritance, accept your responsibilities… Never submit to failure. Do not be fobbed off with mere personal success or acceptance. You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her. She was made to be wooed and won by youth. She has lived and thrived only by repeated subjugations.” (Manchester and Reid)

Let us not be content. We have an inheritance if we are willing to earn it. It has been noticed by many of us that we as geophysicists have an ability to greatly assist our teams but are underrepresented. Often this has been attributed to us inadequately addressing the value of geophysics in a mature basin that has a development focus. Fortunately, irrespective of why, this also means that there is a lot of upside potential. Let’s rise and lift where we stand. As we support each other, even with only our availability, as we show our dependability, we will increase our capabilities.

Let us all reunite. The professor and student. The manager and mentor. The processor and interpreter. We will rebuild our community. We will find new anchors in each other. We will strengthen the CSEG. Our CSEG.

Let us lift together.

Dennis Ellison

References

Kuhn, Oliver, 2014, Traces through time a CSEG history, Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists

Manchester, William, and Paul Reid, 2013, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965, Bantam Books

Uffen, Doug, 2023, Rebuilding a Sense of Community, Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists

About the Author

In his role as Senior Principal Geophysicist at AspenTech, Dennis Ellison helps producers reduce costs and leverage their data with next-generation technology. His career started in depth imaging of geologically complex land data and transitioned into Reservoir Characterization and Quantitative Interpretation, focusing on unconventional reservoir fluid and rock property prediction. He holds a Master’s degree in Geology and Geophysics from the University of Calgary in Canada. Dennis is the current President of the CSEG and a director at ENERGYminute, an organization that distills relevant, well-research and engaging educational content on energy, technology, and the environment. He has received technical and service awards from AspenTech, GeoConvention, CSEG, APEGA, SPE, and Scouts Canada.