A few years ago a young trainee was transferred to my office from the Gulf Coast. He had gone to a good friend of mine with the question, “How will I know Mr. Childs when I see him?” This friend of mine answered very simply, “Just watch for somebody who fills a doorway as he comes through. Look closely and you will see that this man is covered with buttons. If you touch any one of them, you are apt to get a lecture lasting anywhere from five minutes to an hour.” To be sure that this trainee was well equipped, my friend instructed him that he should find the button labeled, “Geology is an art, not a science.” Well, the young trainee came to my office well prepared, and he was so successful in finding the right button that this subject has been very much on my mind for a long time.
My conviction is that geology is truly a science, while art is the skill with which this science is applied. The real problem seems to be whether or not, as geologists, we fulfill our function as scientists. The word “science” is derived directly from the Latin word for knowledge. Science is knowledge, amassed, severely tested, and co-ordinated into an understanding of Nature’s laws. This definition of science includes a strong emphasis on the method of deriving knowledge, and it is this method which is common to all sciences. The scientific method can be divided into four clear-cut steps.
Figures & Tables
Backbone of the Americas: Tectonic History from Pole to Pole
The first article in this book is the address that introduced the technical program of the 46th Annual Meeting of the AAPG. The organization and presentation of this symposium volume was developed in an orderly geographic continuity. Modern concepts of structural form and the sequence of tectonic events are carefully reported all along the mountainous western margins of the American continents. The relationship of this structural knowledge to the accumulation of oil and gas is constantly emphasized in the 26 papers contained herein.