Executive Summary: For Your Eyes Only

In the frozen heart of January ’24, the CSEG Foundation played its hand in a covert operation at the Western Inter-University Geoscience Conference (WIUGC), Winnipeg, Manitoba. Its game pieces? Two operatives, Dilpreet Khehra and John Duhault, have their sights set on shifting the tides of academia towards geophysics and soft-rock geology.

The directive was crystal clear: blend in, engage, and convert. These agents would be chameleons acting as educators by daylight, leading the young recruits through the “Geosciences Applications in the Evolving Energy Industries” short course. They’d stand guard at an Industry Fair booth, riddles wrapped in mystery inside their geophysical enigma. Their fieldwork involved a calculated insertion into the University of Manitoba via a meticulously scheduled field trip. The objective? Lay the groundwork for thoughts to germinate.

Our agents were to be puppeteers at a theatre of knowledge, string-pulling in a discussion panel on “Geosciences in Modern Times,” and provide an entertaining and rewarding CSEG Challenge Bowl. This wasn’t child’s play but the craft of skilled future-makers.

Agent Duhault’s report was terse yet glowing, a beacon of victory in the fog of educational battle. The mission didn’t just hit the target; it struck the bullseye, resonating through the halls of learning as a handful of students stand at the edge of a path less travelled and consider becoming geophysicists and soft-rock geologists.

CSEG-F Outreach Report: WIUGC 2024

Winnipeg, Manitoba

2024.January. 03-07

CSEG Ambassador: John Duhault

Mission Report: Winnipeg Intrusion WIUGC 2024

Recon Phase, Thirty Days Out:

Commander Andy Williams, a relic of bygone days but sharp as a tack, sends word down the line. Winnipeg needs infiltrating. The task? Light a fire under the next generation. Show them what geophysics can do. Williams talks, and I listen. No frills, just the essentials. Quartermaster Middleton’s got the gear locked up in some seedy downtown locker.

Daybreak at the Locker, T-Minus Ten:

I hit the stark, unembellished building where our stash is kept. It is a place that’s no friend to the law-abiding after dusk. So, I make it a morning affair. Trading nods with local wildlife lounging in the wind’s bite, I slip inside. Locker 3-999 doesn’t make hiding in a steel maze easy. Inside, I find the Outreach gear wanting. There are just the bare bones – some minimal swag, sample geophones, rock samples and geophysical propaganda brochures from the last time the other Federal Party was in Power. A challenging play for the mission ahead, but Duhault never was one to back down.

Departure Day, Trouble Brewing:

In one blink, the Medic’s office turns into today’s battleground, and my eyes are enemy territory. Some burning fire-ant’s nest eye infection has taken over my face. No time for down and out. Doc’ scripts me a cure, and I’m airport-bound with two hours to spare.

YYC is a desert for the eyes. It is an arid wasteland and my own private hell. The Oversized CSEG bag creates more delays and gets checked in at another unique conveyor belt location. Thanks to my charming inferno gaze, I get a near-strip-down at security. I rendezvous with Dilpreet, the newbie with a nervous spark. Our tactics? They’re ironclad and ready to go.

In the Thick of It:

Day One, Bootstraps and Brainpower:

Breakfast with a waitress who’s seen it all yet smiles through the routine. Dilpreet and I map out the lay of the land, setting our sights on enlightening the university crowd with some Duhault-style, no-nonsense wisdom. The four-hour short course, “Geosciences Applications in the Evolving Energy Industries,” has thirty students turn into forty, and it’s groundswell we’re riding. The mission is on fire.

The evening mixer’s a jungle; Dilpreet takes to it, showing his mettle with Shotskis and camaraderie. He is in the zone.

Undercover in Academia:

Friday morning arrived with a chilling breeze that seemed to carry whispers of hidden mysteries. Dilpreet and I ventured to the southern edge of the University of Manitoba campus. I noticed the intricate machinery of Dr. Fei Wang’s sea ice research facility, where frozen pools of seawater held secrets waiting to be unlocked. As we navigated the labyrinth of laboratories in the Clay Riddel Faculty of Environment Earth and Resources, our instincts were enlightened, leading us to encounters with Ryan Sharpe’s enigmatic Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) equipment, Derek Drayson’s Argon 47-48 testing equipment shrouded in mystery, and the Ultra-Clean Trace Elements Laboratory, guarded by the enigmatic Debbie Armstrong.

Figure 1. Ryan Sharpe SIMS Laboratory Manager, University of Manitoba. Photo Credit: John Duhault

Figure 2. Derek Rayson Ph.D. Student. Argon 47/48 Ratio testing, University of Manitoba. Photo Credit: John Duhault

The clock ticks as students lap up knowledge and job opportunities at the Trade Fair. On Friday evening, while Dilpreet took advantage of the networking opportunity at the WIUGC mixer on the University of Manitoba’s campus, I decided to reconnect with my roots in Winnipeg and spend quality time with my extended family. I felt nostalgic as I ventured through the downtown Winnipeg streets and revisited memories from my time at the University of Manitoba. The cold winter air embraced my senses, reminding me of past adventures and the lessons learned during my academic years.

The Final Act, Systems Go Haywire:

The regional qualifier CSEG Challenge Bowl was on the brink of disaster. Our tech was wanting. No passwords, no connections, just a ghost in the machine. Dilpreet is stressed with a massive migraine but keeps his cool and soldiers on. It’s a mad dash through the snow to get the necessary tech. Winterpeg’s chills, including the howling winds down Portage Ave, have nothing on our determination to succeed. The router’s up, the game’s afoot, and the room’s alive with excitable energy as each “Quizmaster” style correctly buzzed answer is revealed.

Team Extinction Event bows out due to future commitments, allowing the second-place underdogs, The Bedrockers, to take the win and the spotlight. Pavel Kuczaj from Mount Royal University and Max Landi from the University of Calgary became the WIUGC 2024 CSEG Challenge Bowl winners. A banquet wraps the op, Shastri Ramnath’s Keynote Presentation, the stuff of legends, capping off a night to remember.

Figure 3. The Bedrockers: Max Landi and Pawel Kuczaj, the CSEG Western Final Challenge Bowl winners, are contemplating their answers. Photo Credit: Nolan Sawatzky


The intel we gathered for the CSEG-F confirmed that the WIUGC organization committee, with Tyler Wong and Dylan Sawatzky as co-chairs, ran a very well-organized, informative and entertaining conference. They quietly informed me that the intel they had gathered from various student sources was reliable. The Thursday afternoon Geoscience Applications short course was informative and entertaining, the technical papers and forum were engaging and enlightening, and the Challenge Bowl was a blast!

Figure 4. WIUGC 2024 Planning Committee Back row left to right: Iyowuna Amakiri, Adam Nykyforak, Djelika Sogoba, Dylan Sawatzky, Nathan Dyck. Front row left to right: Tessa Warkentine, Charlotte Gill, Caitlyn Roy, Tyler Wong, Alexis Chiapa. Photo Credit: Nolan Sawatzky

Figure 5. CSEG Challenge Bowl regional qualifier hosts and winners. From Left to right: Agent and Author John Duhault, Pawel Kuczaj, Max Landi, Agent and Co-Author Dilpreet Khehra. Photo Credits: Nolan Sawatzky

As the mission concludes, I am pleased to report that the students are nearly ready for their upcoming missions. Their enthusiasm and attitude will get them through the next adventure of their academic years. Winterpeg is cold in January but will warm up and produce fresh new undergraduate geophysicists and soft rock geologists this summer.

Sitting by a crackling, blazing fire in his warm, comfortable, well-upholstered library, Commander Williams looked up from his geophysical tome. He smiled at Dilpreet as he was pleased with the recruit’s efforts. He glanced at me and hinted at another post-winter mission. I savoured the moment in the Commander’s library and raised my snifter of Glenmorangie Scotch whiskey. The liquid was smooth and silky and went down nicely. I looked at Dilpreet and grinned, “Here’s to our successful mission and our next joint operation. Cheers!”

About the Authors

John L.J. Duhault, P.Geo., walks the path less trodden, a lone wolf carrying the torch for the CSEG Foundation with an iron grip. His language? Geophysics. In the world of Outreach, he’s the man they call when the mission requires a blend of wisdom and wit.

‘The Sage,’ they dubbed him, not just for kicks but for the trail of enlightened minds he’s left in his wake. John recounts tales that grip you, not with embellishment but with the raw, uncut version of how the Earth sings its ballads—tales he’s spun not just in the backyards of America but across the seas to Europe and New Zealand’s far shores.

Commandeering the helm of Starbird Enterprises, Duhault’s the go-to guy for cracking Earth’s most challenging codes—whether weaving through the labyrinthine data of conventional basins or decoding the cryptic narrative of unconventional resources. He’s the sage who stared into the abyss of CCS and wastewater injection challenges and made the abyss blink.

But it’s not just about rattling sabres in the corporate arena. Duhault can kneel, look a child in the eye, and spill “Rock Stories” with the same zeal. Kids grip their seats, forgetting their ABCs for a moment, lost in the age-old sagas of the very ground they stand on.

John’s tenure at the CSEG’s helm is etched in stone, as is his stint as the Vice-Chair of the SEG’s Council, a testament to his standing in the geophysical fraternity. He proudly but humbly carries his University of Manitoba parchment, a BSc in Geological Engineering, like an old army medal.

His alliances? A veritable who’s who of acronyms, APEGA, CSEG, SEG, CSPG, SPE, each a framed plaque on his wall, each a pact that binds him to the cause.

In a world that thrives on seismic shifts, John L.J. Duhault stands steadfast, ever the geoscientist, ever the interpreter-trainer, ever the storyteller.

Starbird Enterprises Inc.

Dilpreet Singh Khehra, G.I.T., graduated in 2021 from the University of Calgary with a BSc. in Geology with a Petroleum Geology concentration.

He began his career at Spectrum Geosciences with hyperspectral imaging technologies, working on core scanning projects that were part of the provincial government’s critical mineral initiatives, before transitioning into his current role as Operations Manager for Spectrum and its sister company, Dynacore Solutions. At Spectrum, he works with tools such as X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), X-ray Fluorescence (XRF), and thin sections, understanding the critical role geochemistry and petrography play in a well-developed understanding of a reservoir play.

As a new grad geologist, Dilpreet is highly interested in learning about carbonate sedimentology and its newly revived role in the transition to clean energy. He is volunteering on the Upper Devonian Woodbend-Winterburn chapters of the 2027 Geological Atlas, allowing him to view beautiful coral reefs and other geological settings regularly!

He enjoys volunteering with organizations such as the CSEG (GIFT Committee and Outreach) and CEGA (SIFT Committee).

Spectrum Geosciences Ltd.