Abstract

A true icon of the Oklahoma City geological community passed away on May 20, 1998. Lon B. Turk died just two months short of his 91st birthday. Volumes could be written about Lon Turk's life history, which included 67 years of being actively engaged in oil and gas exploration. Lon was born in Enid, Oklahoma on July 27, 1907, the son of A. B. and Beulah Turk. Lon grew up in Okmulgee. Noted geologist A. I. Levorsen, a family friend, convinced Lon, while still in high school, to pursue geology. In the fall of 1926, he entered Oklahoma A&M as a freshman in geology. He soon befriended a junior engineering student by the name of John Skinner. Close friends and roommates at A&M, Lon convinced Skinner to re-orient his curricula to geology. Skinner, (who later became a famous paleontologist) in 1931, forever memorialized Lon by naming a fossil Fusulina turki in honor of his friendship with Lon. In 1930, Tulsa petroleum geologist Charles Carlson persuaded Lon to transfer to the University of Wisconsin. Lon recalled a memorable winter in 1932 when Admiral Byrd broadcast from Antarctica and it was colder in Madison, Wisconsin, than it was in Antarctica! By June, 1933, Lon had obtained B.A. and M.A. degrees in geology. Moving to Oklahoma City in June 1933, Lon joined with Kenneth A. Ellison, an Oklahoma City independent. His job was to write geological evaluation reports and to do well-site geology for Ellison's clients. In October 1934, Lon became an active member of the Oklahoma City Geological Society (OCGS). Later that year, at the age of 27, he was appointed by the OCGS to personally appear before Governor E. W. Marland's Budget Committee to protest the diversion of gasoline tax funds to the general fund of the state. The gasoline funds were to be used solely for highway improvements. Lon became an independent consulting geologist in February 1935. Having no funds to buy a car, he rode the Oklahoma City to Norman interurban streetcar for transportation to many of the drilling wells in the Oklahoma City field, where he was the well-site geologist. His fee was $25.00 per day, but he had to pay his own expenses. However, as said by Lon, "Many of my clients were nefarious characters who didn't pay." Lon verified the legendary draining of oil from a well that had been secretly deviated beneath the state capitol building. And, when Governor "Alfalfa" Bill Murray shut down all the wells at Oklahoma City, one operator rigged a valve on his well with left-hand threads so when his valve was "turned off," the oil flowed more! Lon is credited with naming the Hart sand from the Hart lease in Sec. 23, T3N, R3W, Garvin County. Originally drilled in 1946 by Mid-Continent Oil and abandoned at a depth of 7179 feet, Lon (who was the well-site geologist) tried unsuccessfully to get permission to drill deeper. After several painstaking months, he was able to acquire the leases and then persuaded Carter Oil to re-enter the original well. After reaching bottom in 10 hours, Carter drilled 7 feet of new hole and then cut 17 feet of saturated shaly sand and cored 1.3 feet of porous sand. On a drill-stem test the well made an estimated 4 million cubic feet of gas per day and recovered 70 feet of free distillate. The OCGS official seal was adopted on February 22, 1951. Lon Turk, along with Doc Prescott, Dick Richards, and Fritz Kate designed the seal as it is exhibited today. Lon's contribution was the nine crenulations surrounding the seal. This was in honor of the nine charter members of the OCGS who were also nine of the charter members of AAPG. Lon initiated and organized the first Oklahoma City Geological Discussion Group in February 1963. Interestingly, the subject was about plate tectonics, a controversially profound subject that was in its infancy. Lon was a member of AAPG for 68 years and a charter member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG). He attained emeritus membership status in both organizations. The Oklahoma section of AIPG honored Lon as a "Pioneer Professional Geologist" in 1988. Lon was also a long-standing member of the Geological Society of America and a Certified Petroleum Geologist with the AAPG Division of Professional Affairs. As noted on his office door, Lon Turk was a "geologist and explorationist." His entire career was dedicated to finding oil and gas. Lon will long be remembered for his detailed studies along the Nemaha trend, especially his works involving the Oklahoma City and Garber fields. He is credited with the discovery of more than 17 million barrels of oil and 7 billion cubic feet of gas from some 21 discovery wells. Lon was actively shuffling logs and re-contouring maps to the very end of his long and distinguished career. Lon Turk was a true mentor to many geologists. He will be missed by many in the oil and gas profession, but his legacy will last forever.

You do not currently have access to this article.