Joseph Zemanek

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Joseph Zemanek of Mobil Research and Development Corporation has been selected for the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal Award for his invention and development of the continous viewing logging tool known as the borehole televiewer.


Biography Citation for the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal Award

Contributed by Richard L. Caldwell

Joseph Zemanek of Mobil Research and Development Corporation has been selected by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists to receive its Kauffman Medal award for 1971. The selection was in recognition of Zemanek's invention and development of the borehole televiewer, a new logging device for continuous viewing of the walls of a borehole by means of acoustic scanning. It is the first device to operate in opaque liquid to show fractures, vugs, and washouts in open hole; and perforations, splits, and collars in casing. This development and its applications in geophysics, formation evaluation, and reservoir engineering were adjudged to be important contributions to petroleum technology. The tool is now available worldwide through logging service companies.Zemanek has for twenty years been an active, productive worker in geophysics. In November, 1951 he joined Mobil (then Magnolia Petroleum Company) at their Field Research Laboratory in Dallas. He worked initially on electrical methods of geophysics prospecting, and was later assigned to classified Navy contract work for the development of special electronic equipment. In 1954, he started work on acoustic logging. He developed new instruments and circuitry for determining cement to casing bonding and for determining rock properties useful in formation evaluation. These techniques are still widely used in acoustic velocity and amplitude logging. Further acoustic research culminated in the televiewer. Twenty-two U.S. and many foreign patents have been issued to Zemanek.

In 1958 Zemanek received the Mobil incentive fellowship to pursue advanced studies at the University of California at Los Angeles. This fellowship is awarded annually to an outstanding employee in the research department. Zemanek earned the Ph.D. degree in physics in 1962 and was nominated to Sigma Xi. His thesis was on the dispersion of elastic waves in a cylindrical rod a problem which has engaged the attention of physicists over a period of many years. His work on this problem has been published in the journal of the Acoustical Society and continues to occupy an eminent position in the literature on this subject.

Zemanek was born in Blessing, Texas a small Czech community on the Gulf Coast. He grew up on a farm, graduated from high school in 1944, and entered the University of Texas. His schooling was interrupted by a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, but he returned to the University and received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1949. Honors included Phi Eta Sigma, Eta Kappa Nu, and Tau Beta Pi. After graduation he worked a year for General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York, as a design and application engineer. After joining Mobil Zemanek attended evening classes at Southern Methodist University, earning the M.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1957.

Zemanek is active in church, school, and community affairs. Above all, he is a fine person to be with whether in the laboratory, on a well site running logs under trying conditions, or socially. He is admired and liked by his fellow workers and is frequently consulted for his broad knowledge of engineering and physics. At Mobil he holds the position of research associate and has recently accepted a new assignment as project leader on well log data analysis and interpretation. Characteristically, he has undertaken this job with drive, imagination, and ingenuity, backed by twenty years of experience in the design, construction, and field evaluation of a variety of logging tools and methods.