SPWLA petrophysicists, great geology and sunshine


The group looking at the infamous Bridport Sand Formation

The success of many industry field trips can be attributed to detailed planning, background research and an eye for detail. Here at Merlin, we believe another important aspect of any field trip is luck! So it was after much nervous anticipation that the curtains were finally opened at 5:30am on Saturday 2nd June. Greeted by rays of bright sunshine, we knew the weather gods had been kind and luck was on our side. Being tasked with organising the field trip for the Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts’ (SPWLA) annual conference, Tim and Owain from Merlin, met and greeted our 20 attendees at Kimmeridge Bay.

The geology of the UNESCO Dorset Coast is well worn from many a geologists boot, and if you want to see the elements of a working petroleum system in the field, there really is no better place. Our first stop, therefore, was straight to the world-class Kimmeridge Clay source rock and to see its extremely flammable nature (as demonstrated by Tim and his Bunsen burner!). After this, we were privileged to be given a tour of the Etches Collection by the local fossil hunter and museum founder, Steve Etches himself. The dedicated museum contains an astonishing array of Jurassic fossils that he has lovingly preserved, alongside animated films that really bring the fossils to life.

Still marvelling at what we had seen, we headed west to Burton Bradstock. The famous cliffs of the Bridport Sand Formation were resplendent in the sunshine. We took time to study this enigmatic reservoir rock from which, oil is still being produced to this day, in the nearby Wytch Farm Oil field, a sleeping giant hidden beneath Poole Harbour.

Being introduced to the Etches Collection (top left). Walking through the Cretaceous at Lulworth Cove (top right). The natural oil seep at Stair Hole (bottom left). The nodding donkey at Kimmeridge (bottom right).

On the second day, we flew through time to the Cretaceous, to see the chalks and glauconitic sandstones at Lulworth Cove. We were even lucky enough to find real oil in a rejuvenated, natural oil seep just up the hill at Stair Hole.

Whilst eating our lunch overlooking Durdle Door, it struck us that as a British geologist, it is easy to forget just how stunning and varied our coastlines are. Only by seeing the sites through the eyes of another, perhaps from Texas or China, can you really comprehend just how amazingly lucky we are.

As we said, field trips can be well planned, but without good fortune and good company, they are never quite as fun. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the SPWLA and all the attendees of the trip for their enthusiasm and warmth. A real weekend to remember!

by Tim Wright, Senior Geoscientist