Mehmet (Tury) Turhan Tanner (April 10, 1927 - February 6, 2010) was a Turkish geophysicist and a pioneer in the field of seismic data processing.
Biography Citation for the SEG Maurice Ewing Medal 1993
Contributed by Oz Yilmaz
The seismic method has had a profound effect on exploration and development of oil and gas fields, especially after the digital revolution in acquisition and processing of seismic data. Turhan (Tury) Taner not only is a pioneer in this episode that shaped the modern seismic data analysis, but also has ceaselessly made prolific contributions in the field for more than three decades. He has developed algorithms which are in common use today in almost every aspect of seismic data analysis. Tury's ability to grasp the larger scope of a given problem, accompanied by a meticulous devotion to details in developing a theory to solve the problem, is rigorously evident in all his publications. What, then, can be expected to emerge from such finesse? Efficient algorithms, which make a significant difference in improving the quality of seismic data at every stage in the analysis from deconvolution to statics corrections, velocity analysis and migration.
We therefore honor Tury with the Society's highest award in recognition of his truly classical contributions to the science and profession of exploration geophysics.
Early Years and Education
Tury Taner received a Diplome Engineer in 1950 from one of the world's oldest institutions of higher education, Istanbul Technical University. He then decided to expand his professional horizon and came to the United States, where he began the postgraduate program at the University of Minnesota. Thus started a lifetime friendship with Fulton Koehler, a professor of applied mathematics, who has shared Tury's enthusiasm in solving problems in signal processing and imaging.
Tury was restless; he saw an opportunity in the oil industry to start something new digital processing of seismic data. In 1964, he cofounded Seiscom Delta, a geophysical service company which played a significant role for two decades in exploring for oil and gas in remote areas. After serving as chairman, director of research, and later, senior VP for technology, Tury left Seiscom Delta in 1980 to start Seismic Research Corporation, involved in geophysical software development. He has also been an adjunct professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Rice University since 1988. He has organized workshops and has been an instructor in SEG's Continuing Education program since 1972.
Early in his career with Seiscom Delta, Tury devised an algorithm to measure coherency of reflection events along hyperbolic traveltime trajectories in CMP gathers and created velocity spectrum now, we compute thousands of them every day and derive stacking velocity fields along seismic traverses. When he attacked the near-surface problem, there emerged another classic work surface-consistent residual statics correction.
Later, he extended his concept of surface consistency to analysis of seismic amplitudes to remove deleterious near-source and near-receiver effects on reflection amplitudes. He also saw the advantage of surface consistency in designing deconvolution operators from data acquired in transition zones with significant variations in near-surface conditions at source and receiver locations. He devoted his attention to robust wavelet estimation and developed another one of his classic works in deconvolution use of the conjugate-gradient algorithm in designing single- and multichannel predictive deconvolution operators.
When migration of seismic data came into use routinely during the 1970s, Tury devised efficient algorithms to handle steep dips and spatially varying velocities with minimal numerical artifacts. He broadened his interests in migration to prestack data and various domains, including plane-wave decomposition, in search of more accurate and efficient schemes. In recent years, Tury has made use of migration itself to estimate accurate velocity-depth models.
Tury's broad interest in seismic data analysis has also led him to develop successful methods in attenuating multiples. This is an example of how Tury's mind works: We want to make use of the periodicity of multiples to devise an algorithm for attenuating multiples. However, multiples are not periodic in the CMP domain the domain of conventional processing, which comes to mind first. Rather than dismissing the potential benefit of the criterion, we should search for a domain that preserves the periodic nature of multiples; hence, the radial-trace domain.
When sequence stratigraphy became a successful exploration tool in the late 1970s, Tury provided another dimension to stratigraphic interpretation by computing analytic signals, and deriving reflectivity strength and instantaneous phase sections, and took advantage of color displays in interpretation first use of the latter in the seismic industry. And thus, Tury's inexhaustible energy takes us from one geophysical algorithm to another. Last I heard, he was working with neural networks for efficient first-break picking. We can be sure that he will continue doing what he enjoys most seismic data analysis.
Honors and Awards
This is not the first time the geophysical community is honoring Tury. He received the Society's Honorary Membership Award and Best Presentation Award, both in 1978. He also became an Honorary Member of the Geophysical Society of Houston in 1979. He was a Distinguished Lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in 1975 and for the Society in 1992.
Tury Taner the pioneer, teacher, scholar, and great practitioner, now has become a household name in the geophysical literature. We honor him for all he has done for the successful application of seismology in exploring for oil and gas, most appropriately with the Maurice Ewing Medal.