Anton Ziolkowski

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Anton Ziolkowski
Anton Ziolkowski 2015 headshot.jpg
Membership Honorary

SEG Honorary Membership 2015

Anton Ziolkowski is Professor of Petroleum Geoscience at the University of Edinburgh. He has contributed to developments in the acquisition and processing of both seismic and controlled-source electromagnetic data through his approach to measurement of the source signature, including dynamite, land and marine vibroseis, air guns and electromagnetic current dipoles. Seismic advances include the computation of far-field air-gun source signatures from near-field measurements. Controlled-source electromagnetic advances include the recovery of the transient impulse response of the Earth. He co-founded MTEM Limited, a provider of electromagnetic services, later acquired by PGS.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership 2015

by Jacob T. Fokkema

It is one of the oldest dicta of the engineer that “Measuring is knowing.” In general, this is not true, and Anton Ziolkowski taught why it is not. You need a theory to convert your measurement into knowing: “Measuring is the way to knowing.” That is in a nutshell how I like to characterize the importance of Anton for geophysical science.

Anton received his Ph.D. degree in geophysics from Cambridge in 1971, and his first job was in the Seismic Discrimination Group of Lincoln Laboratory, MIT. It was at MIT that he met Kate Crowley, his wife. He was Headquarters Geophysicist at the U. K. National Coal Board in 1976–1980, developing high-resolution seismic exploration with Bill Lerwill, Neil Goulty, Chris Walker, and Trevor Jowett. Anton was Research Consultant to the British National Oil Corporation in 1980–1982, developing measurement and deconvolution of air-gun signatures with Andrew Stacey, Paul Stoffa, Gregg Parkes, Les Hatton, and Tor Haugland. From 1982 to 1992, Anton was Professor of Applied Geophysics at Delft University of Technology, where we worked together. In 1992, he left Delft to become Professor of Petroleum Geoscience at the University of Edinburgh, a position he still holds.

Anton started his quest by arguing that seismic data record the convolution of the earth response with the signature of the source that triggers the measurement. Of course he was not the first to cherish this conceptual model, but certainly he was the geophysicist who made this model his own trademark. Since the earth response is the target, we should deconvolve the source influence out of the measurement within the available bandwidth. In the 1980s, many geophysicists were under the impression that the earth response had a white spectrum and the source therefore had the same spectrum as the data. Anton and I proved this was wrong in our Geophysics paper “The Critical Reflection Theorem.” You therefore have to determine the source signature independently.

Anton initiated his research on the mathematical description of the physical behavior of the air gun. He was never satisfied with just a mathematical answer, and therefore he designed an experiment to put his theories at risk — the Delft air-gun experiment. As a firm advocate of the philosophy of Karl Popper, he was ready to drop his theory if it was falsified by the results. Fortunately, the experiment corroborated the theories, and the method he developed with Gregg, Les, and Tor for measuring marine seismic-source signatures for air guns is now used routinely to obtain maximum resolution in marine seismic exploration. In Edinburgh, Anton worked on sea-surface multiples, well ties, and sub-basalt imaging, but his main work has been the application of his seismic approach to transient land and marine electromagnetic exploration. With Bruce Hobbs and David Wright, he invented a method that required a measured broad-bandwidth dipole-current source signature that is deconvolved from the recorded data for the earth response. This enabled the inventors in 2004 to found MTEM Limited, which was bought in 2007 by PGS.

“Measuring is the way to knowing” is an approach to exploration geophysics that is bearing fruit, and Anton indicated the way through talks, papers, books, debate, and collaboration with 85 M.Sc. students and 22 Ph.D. students. We now observe the results in increased resolution and more meaningful understanding of our data.

"Anton Ziolkowski, 2007"

Biography 2007

Anton Ziolkowski received a B.A. (1968) in engineering, an M.A. (1972), and a Ph.D. (1971) from Cambridge University and an M.Sc. (1974) in economics from the London School of Economics. His experience includes a postdoctoral appointment at the Seismic Discrimination Group at MIT, Headquarters Geophysicist to the National Coal Board, consultant to the British National Oil Corporation, and professor of applied geophysics at Delft University of Technology. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1995. He is the Royal Academy of Engineering and Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) research professor of Petroleum Geoscience at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on development of geophysical methods to find hydrocarbons and monitor hydrocarbon production. In 2004 he cofounded MTEM Limited to identify the presence of subsea and underground hydrocarbons from electromagnetic surface measurements. He was MTEM’s technical director until the company was bought by PGS in 2007. He became chief scientist of PGS, Geoscience and Engineering, and has continued to develop the MTEM method in PGS and after he returned to the university in 2010.

He received the Conrad Schlumberger Award of the European Association of Exploration Geophysicists, 1982; he was elected Member of Hollandse Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (Dutch Society of Scientists), 1991; he was Fall Distinguished Lecturer of the Society of Exploration Geophysicsts, 1994; he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1995; he was appointed Guest Professor, Changchun University of Science and Technology, China, 1997; he was elected Member of Academia Europaea, 2000.

Many of his former students in Delft and Edinburgh now hold distinguished positions in academia, in oil companies, and in the oil-services sector. [1]

Honorable Mention (Geophysics) 2007

Anton Ziolkowski, Bruce A. Hobbs, and David Wright received 2007 Honorable Mention (Geophysics) for their paper Multitransient electromagnetic demonstration survey in France.[2]


  1. Anton Ziolkowski Home Page
  2. Ziolkowski, A., B. A. Hobbs, and D. Wright (2007) Multitransient electromagnetic demonstration survey in France, Geophysics VOL.72, NO.4 P.F197–F209.