Geology was always a natural fit for Kendall Taft, a reservoir geologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS). Born and raised in Jacksonville, Illinois, Kendall grew up fascinated by fossils and never grew tired of looking for them in limestone driveways. Working at ISGS, he now sets sights on interpreting 2D seismic data about reservoirs for potential carbon dioxide (CO2) storage.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at ISGS?
I am an Illinois native, born and raised in Jacksonville. I received my undergraduate degree in geology here at U of I back in 1995, before heading to grad school at the University of Wyoming. Immediately after grad school I joined Exxon (later ExxonMobil) and worked as a petroleum geologist for 23 years. I joined the ISGS in September 2021 as a reservoir geologist. In this role, I work with various pieces of data to better understand and characterize the reservoirs that we are targeting for CO2 storage. I am mostly interpreting 2D seismic data to understand the subsurface structure around our injection project sites, as well as working with and constructing static geocellular models that help us understand the performance of our CO2 injection reservoirs.
What drew you to your particular area of study?
Growing up I was fascinated by fossils. Even in my early grade school years, I can remember carefully looking for small fossils in crushed limestone driveways. Geology was a natural fit and I’m lucky in that I knew what I wanted to study even from a young age.
What tools are indispensable to your fieldwork?
A computer! Given the nature of my work, fieldwork is likely going to occur less often than others working at ISGS.
What question do you get asked most frequently about your career?
There’s no one question that stands out, but typically people really don’t know what geologists do for a career. It's usually questions that revolve around “So…..what exactly do you do?”
What do you wish more people understood about reservoir geoscience and geology?
I wish people understood more about how geologists are finding energy for society as well as working on atmospheric CO2 reduction.
What advice would you give to those just starting out in your field?
I would tell them to be sure to have a broad geoscience and geophysics education and background. Also, if they are starting out working in oil and gas, I wouldn’t discourage them, but I would say be prepared for a bumpy ride.