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Max Steineke - Casoc's Chief Geologist

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Max Steineke in 1938

        In a purely professional way, Max’s principal attribute was his tremendous intellectual honesty, combined with his willingness to stick his neck out by making interpretations and predictions based on whatever geological data was available at the moment.
        One of his favorite words was "embarrassed" and he was always talking about being "embarrassed," though I doubt that he was ever fundamentally embarrassed in the professional sense. As new data became available, he was perfectly willing to throw out the old hypotheses and develop new ones. He was not all embarrassed to call a given structure an anticline on the basis of new information, even though he had said that it was a syncline the year before. He never could understand people who obstinately clung to old theories in the face of new facts.
        In addition, he possessed a great amount of humility, some of which was possibly designed to encourage his young staff, but most of it because he genuinely sought help and ideas wherever he could find them. He would discuss his ideas with us young geologists as if he were seeking our advice. Part of this was Max just thinking out loud, but nevertheless it gave us a great sense of importance and confidence.
        He certainly gave us our head, and most of us responded by working our heads off to justify the confidence. As I remember, the instructions he gave to Ernie Berg and me at the beginning of 1939, when I first became a party chief, were as follows.
       " You go out to Ma’aqala."
       I asked, "Where’s Ma’aqala?"
       Max replied "Oh, it’s out there, 100 or 150 miles west of Jubail. We’ll get a guide to find it for you. When I went through there two years ago, I didn’t have time to look around. Something’s happening there, and you find out what it is."
       These were the totality of my instructions for five months of work.


Chevron hosts an excellent introduction to Max Steineke and the early exploration of Saudi Arabia at The Great Arabian Discovery



Book The Geologists The Places Tom & Kathleen Order