Curtin University Reservoir Geophysics Consortium
The Curtin Reservoir Geophysics Consortium of Curtin University of Technology is conducting research in areas that are highly beneficial to the exploration geophysics industry and thus is very deserving of SEG's Distinguished Achievement Award. The research areas include signal processing, multicomponent processing, and rock physics. The consortium also helps to train geophysicists for later careers in industry and academia. A few examples of recent work on anisotropy and mode conversions include: a 3C VSP analysis, recovery of anisotropic parameters, and attribute analysis; anisotropic processing (NMO and velocity analysis for which CRGC has developed a new implementation of anisotropic moveout that is accurate to all offsets; isotropic and anisotropic P-wave imaging of VSP and surface seismic data; isotropic and anisotropic converted-wave imaging; characterization of reservoir rock properties using seismic anisotropy; and anisotropic AVO analysis.
Citation for the SEG Distinguished Achievement Award
Contributed by William S. French
The Curtin Reservoir Geophysics Consortium (CRGC) was initially funded in 1998 by forward looking companies in the petroleum exploration industry with help from national and state government entities in Australia. Since inception, CRGC has been the driving force for industry research in the Department of Exploration Geophysics, Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia.
In CRGC's short lifetime, 13 students and two members of the academic staff have received petroleum-related PhD degrees; only two were awarded prior to CRGC. This distinction, combined with the many BSc, honours, and master's degrees awarded by the department, allows CRGC's monthly newsletter to proudly carry the motto: Curtin Geophysics—producing the largest number of petroleum geophysicists in the Southern Hemisphere. Another statistic of significance is that postgraduate students have come from over 25 different countries.
CRGC's young age belies its rich history. In the 1980s, Norm Uren (now recently retired as head of the department) and Brian Evans (now a professor in the department) actively promoted the concept of a petroleum industry and government-sponsored research consortium in Australia, but the concept was not accepted at the time. In 1994, funding by the Australian Petroleum Cooperative Research Centre permitted Norm Uren to invite John McDonald on a six-month sabbatical. McDonald was then the Director of the Allied Geophysical Laboratories (AGL) of the University of Houston so he brought to the department a wealth of knowledge of consortium and research management as well as industry visibility.
Joint research projects had taken place between Curtin Geophysics and AGL since the early 1980s. Virtually the whole research program on the Curtin side was carried out by Norm Uren and Brian Evans. The tireless efforts of Brian Evans in field work and fund raising were a key to early success. McDonald was recruited by Uren on a permanent basis in 1995 to specifically launch CRGC. Industry initially said it could not be done in Australia, but they did it! The research strengths of the department were submitted to about 70 industry experts to vote on their preferred ranking of the topics. The top six were selected and written into the initial CRGC proposal.
Simultaneously and synergistically, a two-semester postgraduate course in reservoir geophysics was started. In addition, Curtin's vice-chancellor pledged to build a research wing onto the upcoming Australian Resources Research Centre to house the resource sciences: exploration geophysics, petroleum geology, and petroleum engineering. This is now complete.
The critical mass was in place. The State of Western Australia under its Centre of Excellence program funded the Centre for Exploration and Production Geophysics. This enabled the hiring of a world-class theoretical rock physicist, Boris Gurevich, in a joint appointment with CSIRO Petroleum. This appointment brought immediate and deserved attention to CRGC.
In addition to the research activities listed in the preamble, physical modeling technology was developed to study twophase fluid movement in unconsolidated sand reservoirs using time-lapse 3D techniques. Innovations in 3D signal processing, multiple suppression, wavelet transformation, and time-reversed acoustics were also developed. These research activities have led to the founding of a closely associated Interactive Virtual Environment Center (IVEC), which has applications in other disciplines in addition to imaging in the geosciences.
CRGC holds a two-day annual meeting for sponsors each year where research results and related software are presented and distributed. Staff and students contribute worldwide to SEG and other professional meetings, workshops, and journals; the current average is some 30 papers and presentations per year. Congratulations to a great organization!