Anthony Barringer

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Anthony Barringer
Anthony R. Barringer headshot.png
PhD university Royal School of Mines, London

Anthony R. (Tony) Barringer (October 20, 1925 – August 15, 2009) wrote over 80 technical papers, was awarded more than 70 patents, and invented various techniques and instruments that revolutionized geophysical applications in mineral exploration. His most famous invention, the INPUT (Induced Pulse Transient) airborne EM prospecting system, is credited with the discovery of more than 25 orebodies worth more than US $100 billion. Tony’s extraordinary contributions won major awards: the Logan Medal of the Geological Association of Canada (1977), SEG’s Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal (1980), the Daniel C. Jackling Award of the American Association of Mining and Petroleum Engineers (1985), and induction into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame (1998). Tony served as SEG second vice president in 1987–88.

Biography Citation for the Maurice Ewing Medal

Anthony R. (Tony) Barringer (20 October 1925–15 August 2009) was an indefatigable, inspired, and inspiring leader in the fields of geophysics, geology, and geochemistry. He graduated with both a BSc and PhD from the Royal School of Mines in London.

His achievements were not confined to geophysics as he also made groundbreaking contributions to geochemistry, geology, and instrumentation. Such was Barringer’s reputation that he was able to surround himself with a team of brilliant engineers and scientists who helped to transfer his ideas into operational systems. However, the driving force always came from Barringer.

Tony Barringer was born in the United Kingdom but accepted a position with Selco in Canada as an exploration geologist. Eventually he was promoted to manager of its Airborne and Technical Services. At this time he produced his most famous invention, the Induced Pulse Transient (INPUT) system which relied on a transmitted pulse from a primary coil on an airborne platform. The primary pulse was a sine half wave shape of millisecond duration. The primary pulse induced secondary fields in conductive rocks underlying the aircraft’s path. The decay of these induced currents was detected by a secondary coil towed behind the aircraft.

Analysis of the wave pattern, when matched against a catalog of wave patterns generated in the lab based on analog scale modeling, allowed explorers to get a better understanding of the minerals in a rock formation without resorting to ground sampling. The INPUT system is credited with discovering 25 orebodies worth more than US $100 billion in many countries around the world. He also invented two airborne conductivity mapping systems (E-phase and Radiophase).

In 1961, he formed a private company, Barringer Research Inc. He continued to develop the airborne system and licensed the system to major mineral and oil companies who depended on the remote-sensing technology for exploration.

In 1967, he moved to Denver and became a U.S. citizen. Barringer made numerous technical contributions to the mining and oil industries, including FLUOROSCAN that is used primarily in oil exploration, particularly in the search for subsea deposits. He also developed COSPEC, an infrared, remote gas-sensing technique, originally developed for environmental surveying, but which has found considerable application in remote monitoring of volcanoes to warn of impending eruptions. A Barringer COSPEC was in use at Mount St. Helens when it erupted. It is in use to this day in Mexico at the Popocatepetl volcano. Another invention, GASPEC, has been used by NASA to measure the atmospheric distribution of carbon dioxide.

In geochemistry, Tony developed the SURTRACE system, a helicopter-borne soil geochemical system that could rapidly sample soils for major and minor elements in the search for mineral deposits. The samples were taken along continuous lines and collected on a tape. The samples on the tape were subsequently analyzed for several elements on one of the first inductively coupled plasmas. Tony also invented three other airborne particulate sensors, Cotran, Airtrace and Lasertrace.

He continued to conduct research after his retirement from the Barringer group of companies and is sorely missed.