Examination of an ancient sedimentary basin can provide only an incomplete picture, because it reveals merely the anatomy of a dead body. Physiology must be learned on a living organism, and likewise the geologist must turn to the floor of the present ocean first if he is to gain a full understanding of an oil habitat. On the sea floor processes of transportation, deposition and early stages in consolidation can be investigated along with the accompanying "recent paleogeography." Viewing a sedimentary basin as a succession of sea floors, each with its overlying body of water, will improve interpretation of facies and thus also correlations. Better understanding of relations between environment and the resulting sediment and of gradual development should materially assist in locating likely drilling sites. Now that the more obvious methods for finding oil will soon be nearing the end of their usefulness, it is high time this new approach be fully developed. Up to the present the actualistic method has been sorely neglected in sedimentology as far as shallow waters are concerned. Interest is awakening as the following papers can testify and several other projects have already been launched. Because of the small extent in present times of epicontinental seas, the number of suitable areas is somewhat limited and there may not be modern equivalents of all ancient basin types. But an immense amount of work remains to be done until the possibilities offered by the present seas have been adequately exploited.
One of the chief benefits that can come from research on recent sediments is less apparent, but none the less real. The participating geologist is trained to think about his basins in terms of processes in addition to his sense of space and time.
Figures & Tables
The history of oil exploration in a large basin is very much like the history of research in most fields of investigation. In the history of research into the subject of oil occurrence, however, the rate of increase of knowledge has fluctuated greatly. Sourced from the 1955 AAPG Annual Meeting, this publication contains many of the papers presented at that meeting, which discuss the habitat of most of the oil found in the world prior to 1955.