Abstract

In the late 1930's seismic experiments were started to study the sea-floor of the eastern America sea-board and the English Channel. At the same time gravity measurements were being made from submarines in the deep oceans of the world. These early geophysical experiments led to a better understanding of world geology, in particular underlining the fact that the earth's crust is different under the continents and the oceans, and as a corollary, that the continental shelves are geologically an extension of the continents. Offshore oil prospecting has produced great improvements in seismic techniques, which in turn have helped in studies of the deep oceans. Some of the most interesting results relating to plate tectonics have grown from measurements of the magnetic field over the oceans. The early measurements were made with magnetometers developed by the oil industry. Studies of the sea-bed sediments with 'sparkers', 'boomers', 'airguns' and similar devices and with sideways scan sonar have been made by marine geologists. These tools today form an essential function for civil engineers laying pipelines and constructing platforms and moving drilling rigs. The offshore drilling industry has, in turn, given to the marine scientists their best tool of all. The Glomar Challenger has drilled holes several thousand feet deep into the sea bed in depths of water of 20,000 feet for the past three years. The results of age dating the cores obtained have put the seal on the theory of sea-floor spreading. No doubt a better understanding of the fundamentals of world geology will help the oil industry of the future to locate further supplies of petroleum.

Introduction

During the past forty years a revolution has taken place in our understanding of world geology. The advance in knowledge has occurred because of the work that has been carried out in geophysical investigation of the sea bed. Although continental drift was an old concept, evidence now has been collected to show the fundamental difference between the earth's crust beneath the oceans and that under continents, followed by the brilliant ideas which are gathered together under the theme of 'plate tectonics'. Recently some insight has been obtained into the mechanisms that have altered the land/ sea patterns of the planet earth. The Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research has established a working group on Palau geography to study this aspect of the earth sciences and to see where more research is needed. The result of a better knowledge of the shape of the land in past geological times enables oil explorers to find new areas of promise. Furthermore, the contribution of oil industry methods to research into the sea-bed, especially in the recent advances shown by the Deep Sea Drilling Project, is continuing to bring further enlightenment to the subject of world geology. It is natural that the oil industry and universities should work together - and there is no doubt that the close association between these two different professions has grown during the years in which both parties have been moving out into the province of marine geology.

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