Society of Exploration Geophysicists

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Society of Exploration Geophysicists
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The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the science of geophysics and the education of exploration geophysicists. The Society fosters the expert and ethical practice of geophysics in the exploration and development of natural resources, in characterizing the near-surface, and in mitigating earth hazards. As of early 2008, SEG has more than 28,000 members working in more than 130 countries. SEG was founded in 1930 in Houston, Texas but its business office has been headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma since the mid-1940s. While most SEG members are involved in exploration for petroleum, SEG members also are involved in application of geophysics methods to mineral exploration as well as environmental and engineering problems, archaeology, and other scientific endeavors. SEG publishes The Leading Edge (TLE), a monthly professional magazine, Geophysics, a peer-reviewed archival publication, and Interpretation, a peer-reviewed journal co-published by SEG and AAPG.

SEG's Technical Standards Committee develops and maintains specifications for geophysical data. Most familiar of these standards are the SEG Y data format for storing seismic data.

SEG Membership

SEG memberships include several types to fit different needs. Members get full access to the SEG Digital Library, which includes Geophysics, The Leading Edge, SEG Technical Program Expanded Abstracts, and Robert E. Sheriff's Encyclopedic Dictionary of Applied Geophysics, fourth edition. All members also receive the SEG Yearbook on a CD that also includes the previous year's articles from Geophysics and TLE. Most members receive TLE in print, and Geophysics in print is available to members at a modest subscription rate. In addition, members get lower pricing for reference publications at the SEG Book Mart, Annual Meeting registration, and professional development. SEG Online offers members a suite of services including an online messaging and collaboration tool, a career center, and group health and life insurance in cooperation with its partner society American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).


SEG has hosted meetings, conferences, workshops, forums, and expositions for the geosciences community for more than 78 years. These international events have taken place in numerous locations on six continents. In addition to serving its global membership, SEG works with other organizations, associated societies, and businesses around the world to create the most comprehensive listing of meetings as possible. These SEG international events bring together a global society in ventures of education, research, collaboration, and networking. SEG’s Annual Meeting and International Exposition, held in cities including Houston, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and San Antonio, is the world’s largest gathering of exploration geophysics-related activities.[citation needed] Six days of Annual Meeting events deliver to geoscience professionals technical paper presentations, poster presentations, an exposition showcasing the latest in geoscience-related products and services, workshops, continuing education courses, tours, networking events, career services, and student events. It regularly brings together more than 8,000 exploration industry professionals from around the globe.

SEG Foundation

In 1958, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) formed a trust to provide scholarships for students of geophysics. Thirty years later, in response to the needs of a growing industry, that trust was transformed into the SEG Foundation.

Example programs include the Distinguished Instructor Short Course (DISC), the Honorary Lecturer program, SEG Forums, and the newly launched SEG Online.

Since 1956, four thousand scholarships representing almost $5 million have been awarded to 1,900 individuals in the past 50 years. In addition to its ground breaking scholarship program, the SEG Foundation and its donors also fund student travel grants, leadership training, and field camps.

Journals, books, and newsletters

SEG’s publications program helps the society fulfill its mission of promoting the science of geophysics and the professional development of geoscientists by disseminating information about geophysical research and applications through a variety of channels. The reference publications program publishes a wide range of books, DVDs, CDs, videos, and slide sets in several series. These can be purchased online through the SEG Book Mart.


SEG publishes three journals. Geophysics, published by SEG since 1936, is an archival journal encompassing all aspects of research, exploration, and education in applied geophysics. The Leading Edge (TLE) is a gateway publication introducing new geophysical theory, instrumentation, and established practices to scientists in a wide range of geoscience disciplines. Most material is presented in a semitechnical manner that minimizes mathematical theory and emphasizes practical applications. SEG's newest publication is Interpretation, a peer-reviewed journal co-published by SEG and AAPG for advancing the practice of subsurface interpretation.

SEG Digital Library

The Digital Library is SEG's online resource for the SEG research collection. SEG’s online offerings include electronic versions of Geophysics and TLE; the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Applied Geophysics, fourth edition; SEG Technical Program Expanded Abstracts; the multisociety Digital Cumulative Index; SEG Technical Standards; SEG news; the SEG Extra e-mail newsletter; and the SEG Yearbook. The Digital Library also offers research collections from the Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society (EEGS) and the Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (ASEG) societies.

Professional Development

SEG Professional Development consists of four programs:

  • SEG Distinguished Instructor Short Course
  • Continuing Education short courses
  • Distinguished Lecturer
  • Honorary Lecturer

Distinguished Instructor Short Course (DISC)

The SEG Distinguished Instructor Short Course (DISC) is SEG’s primary professional development program. The DISC is a one-day course taught by a prominent geophysicist on a current topic of interest to a broad audience of geoscientists. The DISC visits over 25 sites around the world each year.

Continuing Education

The backbone of the SEG Professional Development program is Continuing Education (CE). These short courses, taught by industry experts, cover topics from the fundamental to the leading edge of geophysics. CE courses are held in one of three ways: public courses, section-sponsored courses, and contract (in-house) courses. Public courses are sponsored directly by SEG, a series of courses called an [Education Week] is offered four times per year, once in west Houston, once in New Orleans, once in Calgary, and once in north Houston. Public courses are also offered each year the weekend prior to the SEG Annual Meeting.

Section-sponsored courses are sponsored by SEG sections or affiliated societies, and contract courses are sponsored by individual companies or organizations. Generally one or two days long, most courses can be expanded up to 5 days if desired.

Distinguished Lecturer

The Distinguished Lecturer (DL) program is offered two times per year. The Spring DL visits a minimum of 15 locations each year to present a lecture suitable for a lunch or dinner meeting of a local section or university group. Each year the DL is recorded and posted to the Distinguished Lecturers Presentation Library for free viewing by members and the public.

The Fall DL is sponsored jointly with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG). SEG and AAPG alternate years administering the program.

Honorary Lecturer

SEG also offers the Honorary Lecturer (HL) program. The HL program is a companion program to the DL with a focus to transfer knowledge within a region. The regional focus strengthens services SEG provides to an expanding global membership. Lectures may be given in English or a language appropriate to the region.

The regions are Central and South America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, North America, the Pacific South, and South and East Asia.

SEG Wiki

The SEG Wiki launched in the winter of 2011, seeded with SEG's number one bestseller, Robert E. Sheriff's Encyclopedic Dictionary of Applied Geophysics. All entries in the SEG Wiki can be modified and improved by SEG members. All content in the wiki is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA), the same as Wikipedia.

Additional highlights in the SEG Wiki include:

  • Biographies: Many of the pioneers in the development of exploration geophysics reside in this section, including past SEG presidents, editors of Geophysics, and SEG Honors and Awards' winners.
  • Open data: This section documents geophysical data that is readily available for download from the internet, via mail, or through special request.
  • In early October 2014, SEG's second bestselling book, Seismic Data Analysis, by Öz Yilmaz will be added to the wiki.
  • The geophysical tutorial series debuted in the February 2014 issue of The Leading Edge. The tutorials appear every other month to serve as a brief exploration of a geophysical topic.

Early history and Founding of SEG: 1930 Decade: How It All Began


On 11 March, the Society of Economic Geophysicists was founded by 30 geoscientists at the University Club in Houston. Donald C. Barton was elected president, E. E. Rosaire vice president, and John F. Weinzierl secretary treasurer. The Society's Constitution and Bylaws were adopted on 20 May by the following charter members: D. C. Barton, L. W. Blau, E. E. Blondeau, D. P. Carlton, L. G. Christie, Henry C. Cortes, Helmut Dorsch, J. Brian Eby, D. G. Emrick, Eugene Fekete, Helmer Hedstrom, Christian Iden, A. I. Innes, Fritz Kaselitz, A. D. Kerns, J. E. LaRue, O. C. Lester Jr., W. H. Mannes, Eugen Merten, E. E. Rosaire, Russell F. Ryan, J. P. Schumacher, A. L. Smith, M. Elisabeth Stiles, A. D. Storm, Olaf F. Sundt, Raoul Vajk, John F. Weinzierl, L. H. Williams, and B. O. Winkler. A committee was appointed to study petition of affiliation with AAPG. Honorary Memberships were awarded to Ludger Mintrop and Everette L. DeGolyer. SEG papers 1 and 2 were published in mimeograph form in 1931 as a group of papers presented before the Society in 1930. Paper 1: "A universal slope chart for use with seismic method of geophysical prospecting (refractions)" by O. C. Lester Jr. and S. W. Wilcox. Paper 2: "A suggested method of approach for determination of salt dome overhang" by O. C. Lester Jr. Standing Committees: Nominations and Annual Meeting. Dues US$5.


The name of the Society was changed to the Society of Petroleum Geophysicists. SPG's first convention was held on 21 March in San Antonio together with AAPG. Vol. 1, Transactions of the Society of Petroleum Geophysicists was published in December by AAPG; it contained papers presented at the convention in San Antonio. SPG also met with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Physical Society (APS) in New Orleans on 29-30 December. Another officer was added to the Executive Committee: Paul Weaver was elected first editor.


Affiliation was accepted by AAPG and a charter was issued to the Society of Petroleum Geophysicists on 6 April as the official "Division of Geophysics of the AAPG." The convention was held on 25 March in Oklahoma City. Membership: 96


The third Annual Meeting was in Houston on 24 March. The Society continued to meet with AAPG in conventions through 1955. Membership: 103


Vol. IV, Transactions of the Society of Petroleum Geophysicists was published by AAPG in January. The Annual Meeting was held in Dallas on 24 March. Membership: 166


The convention was held 21-23 March in Wichita. A Midyear Meeting was held in Dallas on 29 November, with L. W. Blau as program chairman; 80 attended, 13 papers were presented. F. M. Kannenstine was elected first Editor of Geophysics for 1935 37. He edited the three issues in Vol. 1 (1936) and the first issue of Vol. 2. E. E. Rosaire and M. Elisabeth Stiles served as Associate Editors. A mail ballot was established for the election of officers. Membership: 189


SPG's name was changed to the Society of Exploration Geophysicists on 1 January 1 1937. SEG resigned as a division of AAPG and applied for status as an affiliated society. Vol. 1, no. 1 of Geophysics, A Journal of General and Applied Geophysics was published in January 1936, F. M. Kannenstine, Editor. The first article, "Black magic in geophysical prospecting" by L. W. Blau had been presented at the 1935 Dallas midyear meeting. The first issue also included the first Annual Regional Geophysical Activities Report (for 1935). The journal was published quarterly until 1958. The Annual Meeting was held on 19-21 March at the Tulsa Hotel; 35 papers were presented.

Personals: E. E. Rosaire resigned as president of Independent Exploration Co. and organized Subterrex, a company engaged in geophysics and geochemistry. ... L. W. Blau was promoted to head the geophysics and production research divisions of Humble Oil and Refining Co. Membership: 231


AAPG approved SEG's application as an affiliated society; their joint convention was held 17-19 March in Los Angeles. Geophysics, a quarterly, published issues in January, March, July, and October. J. P. D. Hull of AAPG, Tulsa, was appointed temporary business manager of SEG with offices transferred from Houston to Tulsa. This was done to relieve new Secretary Treasurer Elisabeth Stiles of excessive work. John H. Wilson, 1936-37 secretary treasurer, ended his annual report as follows: "I give up the office with relief and extend my sympathy to my successor." The Society's 3rd Midyear Meeting was held on 19-20 November at the Rice Hotel in Houston. SEG was incorporated in Colorado on February 24. The agreement was signed by E. E. Rosaire, B. B. Weatherby, and L. W. Blau, former Presidents of SEG. Membership: 481


A total of 157 delegates attended the Annual Meeting, 15-17 March, in New Orleans; 26 papers were presented in four geophysical sessions plus one joint session with AAPG. Plans to appoint a permanent business manager fell through and Secretary Treasurer M. Elisabeth Stiles continued to deal with applications for membership plus all business matters of the Society. In addition, E. E. Rosaire (1934-35) served the entire year as advertising manager/salesman for Geophysics. No Midyear Meeting was held as not enough papers were submitted. Membership: 672. Dues: Active US$5, Associate US$4.


SEG headquarters was established in Austin, Texas with J. F. Gallie as business manager. 350 attended the 9th Annual Meeting, 21-23 March in Oklahoma City; 39 papers were presented; F. M. Kannenstine served as Technical Program Chairman. The Midyear Meeting was canceled again. New Committees: Business, Annual Meeting Program, and Committee for Standardization of Terms. The Patents Section first appeared in the October issue of Geophysics.

Personals: Curtis H. Johnson, formerly of Rieber Laboratories, is now associated with General Petroleum Corp . ... H. J. McCready joined Mott Smith Corp. and is based in Santander, Colombia ...R. D. Wyckoff, Gulf R&D, has been transferred from Houston to Pittsburgh ... G. F. Kaufmann, Standard Oil Co. of Venezuela transferred from Caripito to Caracas. Membership: 821