Aleksander Kaufman

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Aleksander Kaufman
Alexander A. Kaufman headshot.png
Membership Honorary Member

Honorary Membership 2004

Alexander A. Kaufman is receiving Honorary Membership for 50 years of outstanding research that resulted in numerous ground-breaking papers and a breakthrough patent on electromagnetic methods of exploration and induction techniques. Alex Kaufman received a PhD from the Faculty of Geophysics, Moscow Institute of Physics of the Earth, where he began his career as a researcher. He has subsequently made extraordinary contributions to virtually every aspect of the application of electromagnetic techniques to geologic mapping and mineral exploration. He is a premier educator who is beloved by his many students at the Colorado School of Mines and is highly regarded for his leading role in the GEOFIZIK Charity Fund which he founded and dedicated to providing health assistance to Russian geophysicists.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership 2004[1]

Contributed by Duncan McNeill, Pieter Hoekstra, and Ken Larner

Perhaps SEG should be awarding four Honorary Memberships to Alex Kaufman, since his friends and colleagues recognize four aspects of our Alex. He is at once an outstanding theoretician, a cherished teacher, an inspiring engineer, and a much beloved humanitarian. Russian by birth, Alex received his PhD in 1960 from the Moscow Institute of Physics of the Earth. He moved to Novosibirsk to become director of the Laboratory of Geoelectrical Prospecting (Institute of Geology and Geophysics, USSR Academy of Sciences) and head of the Department of Geophysics (Novosibirsk University). He received his Doctorate in Technical Sciences in 1964 (Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences). In 1975 he immigrated to North America and has taught at Colorado School of Mines since 1977.

Alex has had enormous influence on the use of inductive electromagnetic techniques. His contributions include many practical, definitive papers on improving the resolving power of frequency-domain and time-domain EM systems in conductive environments, both for geologic mapping and mineral exploration. Other papers explored the often dominant role of induced electrical charges in producing what is called the galvanic current response of conductive targets in conductive environments. He has made important contributions to inductive EM well logging by exploring the resolving power, improving the vertical resolution, examining the effects of anisotropy, and suggesting transient techniques. He received a U.S. patent for a technique that overcame variations in casing conductivity to allow electrical logging through the well casing

Most recently, and to the surprise of us all, Alex has changed focus and is now heavily involved in the fundamentals of acoustic and elastic-wave methods in geophysics.

Since coming to the U.S., Alex has published no less than nine extremely useful books on different aspects of geophysics, and he is currently working on the tenth. Of his books Alex says, and invariably proves with his writing, "I will use the Russian approach...I will start right at the start, and I will work my way systematically through my material to the finish." His emphasis is always on ensuring that the reader truly understands the basics, with the result that even experts in the subject are often amazed to discover that their basic understanding is not as secure as they had hoped.

But Alex's great theoretical skills and basic understanding tell only part of the story. During his years at Mines, he has proved to be extraordinarily popular with his students. With him, they all "started right at the start..." and, when finished, they were delighted to learn that they possessed much more than new knowledge— they now had unexpected confidence in their ability to handle new problems. In a department full of excellent instructors, Alex is the perennial award winner. Indeed his students freely confirm that his influence on them will remain throughout their lives.

Moreover Alex has also made important contributions to the equipment manufacturing and geophysical surveying businesses by ensuring that the practitioners truly understood all aspects of their art. From initial concept, through testing, to survey design and final interpretation, he has been involved, in an engineering sense, with the entire process. When information was needed, Alex was always ready to point out where in one of his many books the information was located, and to join in spirited discussions to ensure that it was correctly understood.

Although he left Russia 30 years ago, Alex remains immensely popular with the Russian geophysical community. Fully aware of the difficult times his colleagues have faced for the past 15 years, he founded the GEOFIZIK Charity Fund to provide for their medical needs (often in the United States) and stays in constant contact with all of them.

In 1997 Alex was awarded the Medal of Fedinsky, the highest award of European-Asian Society for outstanding contributions to geophysics. It is fitting that this year he be awarded Honorary Membership in SEG.

Honorable Mention (Geophysics)

A. A. Kaufman received 1990 Honorable Mention (Geophysics) for his paper The electrical field in a borehole with a casing.[2]


  1. 2004 SEG Annual Meeting SEG Honors and Awards Program
  2. Kauffman, A. A. (1990) The electrical field in a borehole with a casing, GEOPHYSICS 55(1):29.