Alistair Brown

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Alistair Brown
Alistair R. Brown headshot.jpg
Membership Honorary and Life

Alistair Ross Brown expanded the range of 3D interpretation methods and educated geologists, geophysicists, and petroleum engineers in the value of 3D seismic imaging. For his work Dr. Brown has been awarded SEG Honorary Membership and SEG Special Commendation.

Biography Citation for SEG Special Commendation

Contributed by Robert E. Sheriff

Alistair Ross Brown is recognized today for his contributions to the advancement of 3-D technology. He has done this primarily in two ways: by expanding the range of 3-D interpretation methods, and by educating geologists, geophysicists, and petroleum engineers in what 3-D can do to help them understand geologic and reservoir problems.

The common denominator in Alistair's work has been trying to extract the maximum geological meaning from seismic data. His teaching of interpretation techniques through his book and technical papers as well as through his courses and consulting have made him one of the foremost geophysical educators today.

Born in Carlisle in northern England, Alistair received degrees in physics from Oxford University and later studied geology at the Australian National University. He gained experience in seismic acquisition, processing, and interpretation while working for the Australian Bureau of Mineral Resources. He returned to England with Geophysical Service Incorporated and interpreted the first commercial 3-D survey in 1975. He moved to Dallas in 1978 to continue work for GSI on developing 3-D interpretation techniques. In 1987 he became a consulting reservoir geophysicist and for the last decade has been consulting and teaching 3-D and interactive interpretation.

Alistair and his wife Mary (also an Oxford graduate) have three children and five grandchildren. Mary frequently accompanies Alistair on his travels, many of which utilize foreign venues as bases for seeing the world and developing an understanding of diverse cultures.

Alistair has generously served the SEG in a number of ways: in writing and giving papers; serving on the Editorial Board of The Leading Edge; as a continuing education instructor; as a member of the Development and Production, Interpretation, and other committees; in organizing sessions at geophysical society meetings; and in other ways. He received SEG's Best Presentation Award in 1975, and he has been Distinguished Lecturer for SEG, AAPG, and the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia.

In trying to extract the maximum geologic information from seismic data, Alistair is as much a geologist as a geophysicist. The preface to the fourth edition of his book on 3-D interpretation begins with a quote from Milo Backus: "Consider everything to be geology until proved otherwise." While he emphasizes that the objective of geophysical work is better understanding of the geology, he does not compromise geophysical integrity. One can count on what he says to be physically sound.

Alistair laboriously made the first horizon slice of 3-D data 20 years ago, and I regard the horizon slice as the first-order 3-D interpretation tool. Early on he emphasized the use of color as a way to add another dimension to visualization and as a tool for understanding subtle relationships.

His focus in recent years has been on relating seismic data to reservoir properties, and he has been foremost in the use of seismic attributes, especially those utilizing horizon slices. He emphasizes the need for understanding the embedded wavelet in stratigraphic and reservoir studies.

Alistair's most outstanding contribution has been his book, Interpretation of Three-Dimensional Seismic Data (AAPG Memoir 42). It has been a best-seller since it first appeared 12 years ago. It is the first-order document for 3-D interpreters. Consequently it has been very influential in bringing about the expansion of 3-D and in the success of geophysics today. I eagerly look forward to the fifth edition because I have learned so much from each of the previous editions, each of which has expanded 3-D interpretation methods.