Adel Zohdy

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Adel Zohdy
Adel Zhody headshot.png
PhD university Stanford

Adel Zohdy (February 15, 1935 - March 23, 2014) was a senior scientist in the Department of Geophysics at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM). Dr. Zohdy had a varied and successful career as a geophysicist with the USGS, eventually rising to the position of Branch Chief. After his retirement from the USGS after 30 years of service, Dr. Zohdy joined the faculty of the Geophysics Department at CSM. He enjoyed his interactions with students--- teaching geophysical electrical methods and groundwater geophysics.

Biography 2003 [1]

I was born in Alexandria, Egypt. My sport activities in high school included soccer, tennis and squash. Later, in college, I became a serious competitive swimmer. Snorkeling and spear fishing in the Mediterranean were my favorite non-competitive activities. I graduated from the University of Alexandria with a B.Sc. in geology. Upon graduation, I taught chemistry and physics at Victoria College, Alexandria. The following year I became a teaching assistant in geology at the University of Alexandria and I also taught physics and chemistry at the British Boys School. Within that year, I received a scholarship to come to the United States.

In September 1959, I came with my wife and our 5-month-old daughter to the University of California at Berkeley to study geophysics. My strong undergraduate background in paleontology, stratigraphy, mineralogy, and petrology was not very useful to me as a graduate student in geophysics. I took 52 semester hours in math, physics, and solid earth geophysics to catch up and become a geophysicist. I worked as a lab assistant and made induced polarization measurements on core samples. During one summer, I was hired by the University of Illinois, Humboldt River Project, as a geophysical field assistant for groundwater work near Winnemucca, Nevada.

In 1962, I got my Master's degree in geophysics from UC-Berkeley and I transferred to Stanford University to pursue my interests in exploration geophysics. One quarter, I wanted to sign up for a course in electrical methods but my advisor said, "No ... you are going to teach it." I taught that course, and I learned more about electrical methods than had I taken the course as a student. I also worked as a teaching assistant for other courses. At Stanford, at that time, the Ph.D. comprehensive exam was a grueling five-hour oral exam. My committee was composed of two geophysicists, a hydrologist, a mining engineer, and yes, a paleontologist. Switching from deriving Poisson's second relation to identifying a Triassic index fossil was fun. I did very well and I passed. Subsequently, I worked on my thesis; resistivity and seismic refraction studies in the Santa Clara Valley, CA. I successfully defended my thesis and I graduated from Stanford in 1964.

"Adel Zohdy in Santa Clara County, CA, c. 1963"

In 1965, I joined the US Geological Survey. I made electrical geophysical surveys in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Yellowstone National Park. It was very exciting work because test holes, including those that reached more than 6000 feet, followed many of my surveys. I developed methods for the automatic interpretation of sounding curves, for total field mapping and sounding, and for differential soundings.

I wrote several computer programs for the acquisition, interpretation, and presentation of resistivity data. My fieldwork was primarily related to groundwater exploration in deep basins, geothermal exploration, and earthquake prediction studies. I published more than 75 paper, reports, and computer programs. While at the USGS, I learned Russian and I explored the vast Russian literature on electrical methods. I translated a few Russian articles, edited several others (including a book), and I translated a few French articles. Several of these articles wer published by the USGS.

I traveled abroad extensively as an advisor, an interpreter of electrical data, and as a lecturer. The countries I visited included Brazil, Egypt, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sicily, and the former Republic of Yugoslavia. I also visited several organizations in France, Germany, and Spain.

From 1980 to 1984, I served as Chief of the Branch of Electromagnetism and Geomagnetism and then as Chief of the newly reorganized Branch of Geophysics (with nearly 250 employees).

During my career, I received several awards including the Department of Interior Meritorious Service Award, and an SEG Best Presentation Award at a Mining Session. I served the SEG as Associate Editor for Electrical Methods, and recently, I served EEGS as Technical Program Chairman for the SAGEEP Meeting in 2001.

For more than 25 years, my hobby was to train and compete with my German Shepherd Dog(s) in obedience, conformation, and in Schutzhund (a German dog sport involving tracking, obedience, and protection.)

After 30 years of service I retired from the USGS and joined the CSM Department of Geophysics where I enjoy teaching electrical methods.

Honorable Mention (Geophysics)

A. A. R. Zohdy and R. J. Bisdorf received 1990 Honorable Mention (Geophysics) for their paper 'Schlumberger soundings near Medicine Lake, California. [2]


  1. Zohdy, A., 2003, "Distinguished senior scientist: Adel Zohdy," Departmental Newsletter, Department of Geophysics, Colorado School of Mines.
  2. Zohdy, A. A. R. and R. J. Bisdorf (1990) Schlumberger soundings near Medicine Lake, California GEOPHYSICS 55(8):956.