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Paleontology, as applied in biostratigraphy, has long been an indispensable part of petroleum exploration. However, rapidly improving technology in many disciplines and the limitations of traditional biostratigraphy based on tops and zones dictate the need for an improved technology. In response to this need new approaches have been suggested, including probabilistic stratigraphy, geohistory diagrams, no-space graphs, isotopic and fission track dating, radiometric geochronology, tephrochronology, magnetostratigraphy, paleo-oceanographic geochemistry, and graphic correlation utilizing composite standards.
One example of a research program for the 1990s and beyond includes the development of a paleontologic composite standards and the interactive capability for their use by graphic correlation; the development of computer data bases for morphologic, taxonomic, paleoecologic and paleogeographic research and the interactive capability for synthesis, analysis and display; and, the development of time-based primary sedimentary models for prediction of geologic conditions ahead of the drill. Refined and stable taxonomic data supplied by highly capable paleontologists are a prerequisite for success. Such a program clearly requires management commitment of manpower and resources necessary to develop the technology, and it requires the development of effective technology transfer mechanisms to mplement the results in exploration programs. The reward for success will be multifold improvement in our understanding of geologic conditions and history.
As with all exploration sciences, the present and future of biostratigraphy is the intelligent application of good paleontology to the solution of increasingly difficult geologic problems by constantly improving technology.
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