Iain JDC Mann           

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Period 2, Harris   


The Scientist In My Family                   

I met with Angus Mann here in Houston, where he lives and works as an exploration seismologist. I asked him what inspired him to follow a course of study that would become a career and move him many miles from histower1.jpg (6127 bytes) birthplace in Glasgow, Scotland.

I entered university originally intending to pursue a degree in physics, or natural philosophy, as the University of Glasgow calls it. A second year course in geology  was so interesting, I decided to go further with it and graduated with a degree that is a combination of both subjects. Apart from my interest, there was a shortage of geophysicists at that time as well as an oil shortage.

2001_1.gif (3696 bytes)During his years of study at Glasgow University, Mr. Mann spent many hours doing lab work in both subjects. He prepared and performed many experiments in physics and examined rocks and fossils. His thesis involved geological mapping onmap.gif (6332 bytes) Arran, a small island off the west coast of Scotland. All of this study prepared him for entry into the oil service industry as a geophysicist.

He began by doing field work on seismic crews. These crews travel to areas which have been selected by oil companies as possible sites for the discovery of subsurface oil and gas deposits. The crews lay electronicseisexp.gif (7803 bytes) listening devices called geophones along the surface of the ground and set off explosive charges or use machines to simulate them. The shock waves (or sound waves) produced by these charges travel into the earth and are 20dm.jpg (4097 bytes)both transmitted and reflected back to the ground by the layers or strata of the rocks beneath the surface. This data is collected by the geophones and is digitally recorded on magnetic tape. This part of the process is called seismic data acquisition.

I have worked with, and ultimately headed seismic acquisition crews performing field work and collectingwest_a.gif (10580 bytes) data in England, Nigeria, Gabon and Cameroon.

Twenty-three years later he is still a part of the process.

I continue to work in the oil service industry and we continue to look for oil and gas under the earth's surface. I currently work for one of the biggest oil service companies, doing business with some of the largest oil corporations in the world, as well as small independent companies. The service we provide to them is called seismic data processing. seisproc.gif (29646 bytes)

He further explained that this involves taking the raw data obtained by the exploration crews, on land or at sea, and applying various processes to it in order to refine and produce a computer generated cross-section of what the subsurface looks like in that area.

This enables the oil companies to drill a well if the structures they see on the cross-sections look like they would contain oil. seismic.gif (11371 bytes)

Working in a highly technical job, I wanted to know what he liked most, and least, about his job.

I enjoy working with computers and we have very large ones. I have computer.jpg (6096 bytes)worked on data from a variety of places around the world and have traveled to a number of countries in Africa, as well as to Canada, Mexico, Europe and South America. I least like producing reports when I finish a project, but they have to be done.

The exploration and drilling of oil has a major effect on the quality of our lives. Oil and its by-products are used in the manufacturing of many, many products we use every day. The most obvious of these is gasoline, but it also produces plastics, synthetic fibers, detergents, paints, road surfacing materials, cosmetics and much more.

In spite of the ups and downs in the oil industry, Mr. Mann hopes to continue his career in geophysics until retirement.

In case you haven't already guessed, Mr. Mann is my dad. Awaybigdome2.jpg (10026 bytes) from the workplace he has shared his interest in other areas of the earth sciences with me, particularly astronomy and meteorology. weather.jpg (7583 bytes)We visit the George Observatory in Fort Bend County often, and chart the storm and hurricane activity in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico every year.