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The Marine Geology Committee of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists presented its first workshop “Finding and Exploring Ancient Deltas in the Subsurface” at the 1975 annual meeting at Dallas. Because the deltaic system provides a major source of hydrocarbons, the workshop’s purpose was to offer a rationale to provide the geologist with a better understanding of his geologic tools and the sedimentary complex to which they have to be applied.

The overwhelming interest in this workshop resulted in the organization of a second short course by the Marine Geology Committee for the 1976 annual meeting. It seemed proper to combine an evolving frontier area with an extension of the previous workshop theme. Under the title “Beyond the Shelf Break, ” a series of 10 papers was presented to provide an in-depth study of many facets of the upper continental slope. Nine contributions focused on the Gulf of Mexico, and one dealt with the oil-trapping characteristics of turbidites with examples from California.

Several environmental settings are favorable to the accumulation of oil and gas, one of them being the continental slope. The slope in the northern Gulf of Mexico was drilled in 1966 by a combine of oil companies (Exxon, Chevron, Mobil, Gulf) to depths of 1,000 feet (305 m) with the drilling vessel Caldrill I. The proprietary rights expired after 10 years, and release of these data as part of a workshop rather than as individual abstracts and papers was felt to be of greater service to the geologic profession. As a consequence, many papers presented in the short course originated from petroleum company research on the continental slope.

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