Biography Citation for the Reginald Fessenden Award
Gerald C. Summers is recognized today as one of the pioneers in the development of the continuous-velocity logging method--a development which has had a significant impact on petroleum geophysics since its inception nearly twenty years ago. This citation recognizes his early work and continuing contributions to this important field.
The impetus to acoustic-logging research was the need for detailed borehole measurements of the velocity layering of the earth to aid geophysicists in the interpretation of reflection seismograms. In 1952, Jerry Summers and R. A. Broding published a paper in GEOPHYSICS entitled Continuous Velocity Logging that posed some of the questions to which the geophysicist needed answers: "(1) How thick does a bed providing a given velocity contrast have to be to give a reflection? (2) How important are density contrasts in seismology: (3) Does the character of a reflection produced by a number of thin beds differ in any obvious way from a reflection produced by a single thick bed? (4) Is it possible to distinguish between reflections originating from interfaces where velocity increases from interfaces where velocity decreases?" If these questions seem naive, it is only because of revolutionary new thinking initiated by the ability to measure the velocity layering of the earth in detail. New techniques, such as synthetic seismograms now became possible. As a result, seismic interpretation made a quantum jump in effectiveness.
As an electrical engineer at Mobil's Field Research Laboratory in Dallas, Texas, Gerald C. Summers played a key role in the development of the continuous velocity logging method. As with most research, the development of acoustic methods was plagued with a multitude of problems. It is usually the combination of perseverance and innovation together with an intense belief in the project which bring about success. It was this rare combination of faculties that Jerry applied to acoustic logging. Making use of his wartime experience in radar research, he decided to develop the logging tool around a pulsed-signal system. But the change in operating environment to high temperatures and pressures required new ideas and the solution of perplexing problems.
Transducers which would withstand the high temperature and pressure in a borehole had to be developed and a high-voltage transformer for use in a small steel case designed. To cope with the weak first-arrival signals, he decided to send them from the down hole receivers to the surface so that the operator could monitor the measurements. Isolator sections between transmitter and receivers were required. Devising means to keep ink from flowing in recorder pens, learning to drive a truck, coupled with the fact that all wells, as everyone knows, are logged at night, on weekends or holidays would have discouraged all but the most persistent researcher. It is a tribute to Jerry that he persevered through all this and saw acoustic logging to its successful conclusion with a system which remains in use today.
Jerry has asked that this citation acknowledge the valuable help of his several co-workers whose wholehearted support ensured success of this project; in particular, W. G. Hicks and J. Ely (both now deceased); and R. A. Broding, J. R. Berry, A. A. Stripling, A.J.D. Strauss, and L. J. Norton.