The Rock Doctor

People ask me what we drill. I tell ’em, “Rocks and dirt.” When questioned about my expert geological terminology, I shrug and say, “If it’s hard, it’s rocks. If it’s soft, it’s dirt.”

We do see some interesting dirt and rocks. Drilling off the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea the volcanic history of the ocean floor flows across the shale shakers. Fish bones and seashells then abrasive lava and pumice then back to bones and seashells, layer after layer, alternating over and over hundreds of times, for thousands of feet. In the Gulf of Mexico, in what is called a continuous deposition basin, we’ve been known to hit cypress logs at surprising depths.

In the movie Hollywood made about the Deepwater Horizon, I hear they “played like” a dinosaur claw or tusk or whatever was circulated out of the hole. That’s a bunch of baloney. Though, I would be more inclined to believe that story than I would the one told to me about gold coming across the shakers. The specific gravity of gold is 19.3. In other words, gold weighs 8.33 pounds per gallon (weight of freshwater) X 19.3 = 160.7ppg.

Didn‘t happen.

An Indian man carrying a microscope arrived on my rig over in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. I thought he was a doctor and he was: a rock doctor. His words, not mine. Paleontologist. I don’t think he could say it either. They look for the ’ocenes I call them—Pleistocene, Pliocene, Miocene, Oligocene, Eocene and Paleocene—and talk about nanoflora and nanofossils and throw around words like Catinaster and coalitus and discoaster and optima-optima and discuss stratigraphic tops and dips and on and on until it sounds they’re on the verge of the truly-obscene.

Our conversations are one-sided. I listen intently, nodding, lips pursed, doodling on a pad, and then when they’re done, I ask them to repeat everything they just said … in English.

 

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