Creating Certainty in an Uncertain World
A major flaw in the traditional method of finding oil and gas deposits is that you can miss a really big gusher because you only "see" what is directly beneath your feet. A significant find might have been within your grasp if you'd only drilled the hole a few meters to the left or to the right. Geostatistics has changed all this. Geostatisticians help fill in the blanks in the data supplied by traditional core and seismic sampling by using computer models to predict what's going on in an un-sampled location and to provide a probability of how much oil, ore or waste lies between sampled locations. Dr. Clayton Deutsch constructs these mathematical models and he is spending his time as the Canada Research Chair in Natural Resources Uncertainty Management using them to estimate the amount of natural resources there are in the earth. Dr. Deutsch knows that decision makers need to have a precise measure of what they can or cannot expect to find. While current techniques are evolving, they are far from exact, which is why he trying to develop general geostatistical tools that can be applied anywhere and that are flexible enough to adapt to many different situations. One of the challenges facing Dr. Deutsch and fellow geostatisticians is how to overcome the variability of geology. For example, the same type of rock can be different in different locations. One can find sandstone in one place, and sandstone in another. But the sandstones aren't identical. Sandstone A might have proven to be a good place to look for oil. But that doesn't necessarily mean that sandstone B indicates a good place as well. With the world becoming increasingly concerned about non-renewable natural resources and environmental impact, Dr. Deutsch's research could well lead to more efficient means of producing natural resources while lessening the impact such production has on the environment-a win for both society and industry.