Bastiaan Baars

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Bastiaan Baars
Bastiaan Baars headshot.png
Membership Honorary Member


Bastiaan (Bas) Baars was a geophysicist with Shell, where in 1957 he was head of geophysical services.

After World War II he was mainly concerned with seismic techniques. He was co-founder of the European Association of Exploration Geophysicists (EAEG) which later became the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE). He retired in 1967, after which he was active in the German company PRAKLA (geophysical services).


Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

It is not often that the Committee on Honors and Awards together with the Executive Committee reaches across the ocean to bestow the Society's highest honor on one of its members and this only adds to the luster of the Honorary Membership awarded to Dr. Bastiaan Baars.

With this Honorary Membership the Committee would like to recognize in particular the pioneering activities of Dr. Baars for SEG's sister society the European Association of Exploration Geophysicists. Dr. Baars, a founding member of the EAEG and its first secretary-treasurer for nine years, was highly instrumental in coaching the infant EAEG, avoiding hazards and overcoming the disappointments that often confront new enterprises. The silver jubilee of the EAEG bore witness to the accomplishments of Dr. Baars and his fellow Council members during the formative years. He still has a lively interest in EAEG and SEG matters and enjoys attending their annual meetings.

Dr. Baars, known to his friends as Bas, has been an active geophysicist since he was awarded a doctor's degree in experimental physics by the University of Utrecht in 1935. Most of the succeeding years he spent with Shell, where his career culminated in 1959 with his promotion of chief geophysicist. He retired from Shell in 1966 and has been an advisor to Prakla since 1967.

A geophysicist for 42 years, Dr. Baars became thoroughly familiar with all geophysical methods used in the exploration for hydrocarbons. Early in his career he investigated the potential application of electrical methods but dropped this approach following somewhat negative results and specialized in gravity and magnetic survey methods that in those years were fully on a par with the seismic method. He continued with these activities throughout the war years. Shell used to train gravity observers and drillers in the Netherlands, thereby gaining information which was to change the geological picture of the Low Countries and even produced a gravity anomaly where the Schoonebeek oil field is now located. Tactfully their maps were only revealed after the war.

Rebuilding Shell in 1945 meant for Bas a broadening of his professional expertise as he became deeply involved in seismic techniques, which entailed a 7-months stay in Houston, Texas, to update himself on developments that took place in the 1940-45 period. Thereafter he witnessed, participated in, and finally guided Shell's rapidly increasing involvement with this method and the many evolutionary changes that took place subsequently. Looking back over 41 years the progress has been dramatic, being today quite familiar with the limitations of the seismic method, it is surprising that the crude methods used in the 1930s produced any results at all.

A recession in exploration activities on a worldwide scale coincided with Bass promotion to chief geophysicist in 1959 and it was he, with his concern for the wellbeing of others, who had to go through the ordeal of dismissing some of his longstanding colleagues. However, the world's expectation of a glut of energy was short lived and soon the oil industry was forced to extend exploration offshore in an attempt to match the ever growing needs of a society that had not yet recognized the existence of words like "conservation." Dr. Baars ably maneuvered Shell through those years characterized by rapidly changing field techniques and the introduction of analog and digital processing methods. He retired from Shell in 1966 leaving behind a totally reoriented and competently staffed geophysical department.

Since 1967, Dr. Baars has been associated with Prakla in Germany being mainly concerned with their development activities.

Bas is a devout Protestant and an active member of his church. As a good Christian his continuing interest is for other people, as his many friends, colleagues and acquaintances will gladly testify. We sincerely hope that he will continue to be with us for a long time in his role as "Eminence Grise," in which he is helped by a lavish, almost white, hairdo.