Arthur Benjamin Weglein

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Arthur Benjamin Weglein
Art Weglein headshot 2016.png
PhD Physics
PhD university New York University

SEG Maurice Ewing Medal 2016 [1]

Arthur Benjamin Weglein was recognized with the Reginald Fessenden Award in 2010. Since then, his work on the inverse scattering series (ISS) has made the significant leap from a conceptual advancement to an accepted practical solution, not only for multiple removal but also for other components of the seismic-processing chain like wavelet analysis and depth imaging, particularly in complex geologic environments where prior methods have not been robust. This broad application has elevated the ISS work to a major contribution to the science of exploration geophysics. In addition to these technical achievements, Weglein has done a great job in writing and teaching for the seismic industry. He has written many papers for Geophysics and The Leading Edge, and has coauthored books on multiple attenuation (with Bill Dragoset) and seismic imaging and inversion (with Bob Stolt). His mentorship of graduate students has led to six of his students receiving the J. Clarence Karcher Award. In service, Weglein has served as the 2003 SEG Distinguished Lecturer and has served on the SEG Council as a district representative.

Biography Citation for the SEG Maurice Ewing Medal 2016

by Robert H. Stolt and James D. Robertson

Our association with Art Weglein goes back nearly 40 years to when Art first entered the petroleum industry as a young researcher applying theoretical physics to seismic challenges. Art believed that the mathematics of quantum scattering theory was potentially applicable to the inverse seismic problem — an expectation fully supported by his subsequent research and mentoring of colleagues and students.

Art’s formal education culminated in a PhD in physics from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in 1975, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas at Dallas. He joined Cities Service in 1978 and progressed through a distinguished research career at Cities, Sohio, and ARCO including short-term appointments as a visiting professor at the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil; a visiting professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands; and a scientific advisor at Schlumberger Cambridge Research in the United Kingdom. In 2000, he moved to the University of Houston in Texas where he is now the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Chair in physics, and founder and director of the Mission-Oriented Seismic Research Program (M-OSRP).

Art has always maintained a close collaboration with both academic professionals and industry practitioners, immersing himself in the direct practical applications of his research. He is a one-person bridge between the academic and industrial worlds, routinely on the leading edge of theoretical innovations in universities while focusing new scientific insights on the immediate seismic data problems of the geophysicist exploring for and developing oil and natural gas fields. In addition to SEG’s Reginald Fessenden Award in 2010, Art was recognized in 2008 for his contributions to exploration seismology when he received the Townsend Harris Medal, the highest honor of the City College of New York and an honor previously given to numerous Nobel Laureates.

Art’s work in recent years has expanded from removal of multiples in marine seismic data to more difficult challenges: eliminating internal multiples from land seismic data in desert environments where the multiples are generated by thin discontinuous layers in the near surface; eliminating internal multiples from marine seismic data in areas of significant structural complexity caused by salt intrusion and layering; removing internal and surface multiples from land seismic data when both primary reflections and multiples are horizontal and not distinguishable by other multiple removal methods; and direct depth imaging of seismic data without requiring the a priori determination of an accurate velocity model. These advances have elevated Art’s research to a major contribution to the science of exploration geophysics.

In addition to his technical achievements, Art has made outstanding contributions to the profession of exploration geophysics through his university teaching, mentoring of students and colleagues, organizing and chairing numerous symposia and research workshops, and publishing review papers and textbooks for both graduate student and professional education. He has been the principal thesis advisor of nearly 25 PhD students at multiple universities, six of whom have received SEG’s J. Clarence Karcher Award. Art has freely disseminated his research insights in comprehensive review papers in The Leading Edge and Geophysics, and in talks at SEG Annual Meetings and as an SEG Distinguished Lecturer. He is the coauthor with one of us (Bob Stolt) of the two-volume publication on Seismic Imaging and Inversion from Cambridge University Press that is both a textbook for graduate-level geophysics courses and a reference book for seismic R&D.

Throughout his career, Art has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to good science, always delivered with lively intellectual curiosity and good humor. He is devoted to his family as well as his profession. He and his wife Chris are the proud parents of wonderful and successful children and are engaged contributors to their community outside geophysics. We are honored to provide this citation for the award of the Maurice Ewing Medal to Arthur B. Weglein.

SEG Reginald Fessenden Award 2010

Art Weglein is receiving the Reginald Fessenden Award for his influence on the seismic industry through his work in inverse scattering series. He and his colleagues and students have published widely on this topic and the result is seen in the thinking and practice in the industry today, particularly in the area of treatment of multiple reflections.

Biography Citation for the SEG Reginald Fessenden Award 2010

Contributed by Robert H. Stolt

During the 1970s, a few theoretical physicists arrived on the seismic scene, young and naive enough to believe that the apparatus of quantum scattering theory could be applied to the inverse seismic problem. Among them was Art Weglein, who started at Cities Service in 1978 with a Ph.D. in physics from CUNY.

Art and I, among others, were fascinated with the inverse scattering series, and hopeful that it contained the key to the information hidden in seismic data. Apart from some success with the first term in the series (the so-called Born approximation), early results were discouraging. Inadequate computer power was certainly a problem, but so was faintheartedness. Art, more than anyone else, remained true to the original vision, mining the inverse scattering series for remedies to perplexing problems, including surface multiple removal, internal multiple removal, and imaging through complexity. Along the way, he has taught and mentored a number of young geophysicists, who have now taken their place as leaders in the seismic community.

In addition to working at Cities, Sohio, and ARCO, Art spent 1989–90 as a visiting professor at the Federal University of Bahia in Brazil, and 1990–94 as a scientific advisor at Schlumberger Cambridge Research in Cambridge, England. In 2000, Art joined the faculty at the University of Houston, where he now occupies the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professorship in Physics. In 2003, Art visited 25 SEG Sections in six countries as SEG Distinguished Lecturer. Art is very much a theorist, though he always manages to keep a toe dipped in reality. At a time when most "research" is short term, Art's horizon is far away, though he is never without clear objectives.

His gentle humor and unwavering commitment to good science make him a joy to work with. His scientific curiosity rarely turns off, even on evenings and weekends. He and his wife Chris have nevertheless raised a fine family, and remain active and involved with contemporary affairs.

Art has generated some controversy with his velocity-independent approach to processing. Although the inverse scattering series requires an initial or "background" velocity model, the final solution is, on paper, independent of the initial model. Velocity-independent processing is not unknown within the industry, helping most people to now accept velocity-independent surface-multiple removal, many to accept velocity-independent internal multiple attenuation, and some to accept velocity-independent imaging.

Arguments against velocity-independence have been made from the inverse series itself. Convergence of the series depends on the initial model being "close", in some sense, to the final solution. Analysis of individual terms in the series requires a Feynman-like interpretation, with waves propagating in definable directions between multiple scattering points. If the background velocity differs too much from the actual velocity, this interpretation becomes questionable.

Fortunately, for a quantum field theorist, indeterminacy is not an obstacle. With the outcome far from sure, Art approached the inverse series as performing a number of discrete tasks, some of which may be isolated by confining attention to certain terms (i.e., a subseries) of the full inverse scattering series. Some of these subseries may be sensitive to the initial velocity model, but others may not. By dissecting the series, Art and his coworkers have produced a suite of useful processes while advancing substantially their understanding of the inverse seismic problem.

Where success is certain, anyone may go. Art has shown a consistent willingness to swim in deep water, and has demonstrated his ability to do so. It is an honor and a privilege to present Arthur B. Weglein for the Reginald Fessenden Award.


  1. SEG Honors and Awards Ceremony, SEG Dallas 18 October 2016, Omni Dallas Hotel, Dallas Ballroom, International Exposition and Eighty-Sixth Annual Meeting, Dallas, Tx, p, 35.