Stop 3 – University of Oklahoma

So, we finally head south, from Ohio State and Rutgers, to the University of Oklahoma…

Having spent most of the day travelling from New Jersey, I arrived into Norman, a town lying c. 20 km south of Oklahoma City, in the mid-afternoon. A quick in-room hot-tub in a garish pink bath (Seriously. I’m happy to send a photo to prove it…), and I was set for dinner with Kurt Marfurt (see also here) and one of his PhD students, Lennon Infante (check out his mega-dashing photo on his LinkedIn profile…) Now, Kurt is geophysical royalty, having authored or co-authored stacks of seminar papers on the application of seismic reflection data and, in particular, seismic attributes, to understanding the form and fill of sedimentary basins. He’s won a shit-ton of awards and has edited numerous journals, including the relative new, AAPG-SEG journal, Interpretation. He and Lennon were super-nice and we went to a local restaurant called ‘Fancy That‘, which is run by the son of Roger Slatt, a renowned sedimentologist who also works at the University of Oklahoma (more commonly referred to as ‘OU’). After yet more calories, some IPAs and red wine, and some very interesting geo-chat largely around the subject Journal Impact Factors(!), it was a time for an early night.

The next morning it became clear that heading south, towards the equator and the Sun, didn’t equate to increasing temperatures. It was around -3oC during my morning run. Heading north from the Campus Corner district, along the Heritage Trail and inspired by a beautiful sunrise, I tried in vein to reach a large park with an attractive lake; I failed, partly because I thought I would pass out from hypothermia, but mainly because I had said to the host of my digs, Holmberg House, that I’d be back for the 8:00am breakfast slot.

Holmberg House is located immediately north of the OU campus. A beautiful stone building that now partly hosts a B&B, it was built in 1914 and is listed on the national register of historical buildings. On return from my run, I was presented with a delicious, southern-inspired breakfast, comprising apple cinnamon toast, scrambled eggs, and fruit with whipped butter topping. It was the coffee that thawed me out though and the thoughts of @andydoggerbank not having any of it.

After a quick trip to a local coffee shop to circulate amongst other human beings and to check emails, and a short Skype call home to make sure my wife hadn’t committed infanticide, I was picked-up by Lennon. Along with Thang Ha, another PhD student working with Kurt, we had a quick driving tour (it’s the US, what else…?) of the rather attractive, sprawling campus, before heading to the Sam Noble Museum. It. Was. Freakin’. Awesome. Rocks and dinosaurs abound(ed), and the room covering the history of the Native American peoples of Oklahoma and, more generally, the US, was inspiring, if a little troubling (see below). During my AAPG tour in 2013 I was also fortunate enough to go to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Centre (see post here) museum in Casper, Wyoming; the rich history of the people, and the way in which they were and, in some places, continue to be treated, almost brought me to tears.

We headed back to the ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics, where I was given a quick tour of some awesome #pavementgeology (see below) and some very old-skool gravimetres. I was particularly transfixed, yet again, by the maps adorning the walls of the otherwise beige-infused building. Unlike Ohio State, OU didn’t have one showing all the intra-state earthquakes, which would have been fascinating given all the intense, not-entirely-positive coverage of the drilling induced-seismicity occurring across OK. We discussed these earthquakes over a lovely Thai lunch, with Lennon and his friends vividly recall being woken by the magnitude 5.8 that occurred on 3rd September 2016.

Post-calories, it was time for my talk, which was, I can thankfully say, not the ‘Hubble’ one again, but the one about seismic imaging of igneous geology in sedimentary basins (the talk can be downloaded here). The basement room was full, albeit windowless, sub-tropical and rather dark, but I think I managed to keep the audience suitably aroused for 45 minutes. Indeed, the Q&A session was intense, lasting for about 20 minutes before feeling being called to a halt by the Department Head, Doug Elmore. It was great fun, and I was presented with a lovely pink piece of Barite Rose, the state rock of Oklahoma. Formed around quartz grains in the Triassic Gerber Sandstones, it’s real purdy (see below).

I then headed upstairs to rehydrate and to readjust to natural light, before spending a very enjoyable and stimulating hour or so with some PhD students and researchers in the ‘Crustal Imaging Laboratory’ (I think that’s what it was called). Turns out that interpreting igneous sills emplaced in crystalline basement can be hard, equivocal, and controversial. I said goodbye to Lennon, who was a cracking host, and headed out on my own for IPA and tacos (see below, @andydoggerbank). In that order. What remained of the evening was spent thrashing my keyboard in search somewhere to stay in Stop 4, Honolulu.

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Author: Christopher Aiden-Lee Jackson

I am Professor of Basin Analysis @imperialcollege. I ❤️ 🏃🏿, 🚴🏿 and @basinsIC (⛏). I obsess about the tectono-stratigraphic development of sedimentary basins. Why? Because I'm hopeless at everything else.

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