Bjørn Ursin

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Bjørn Ursin
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Membership Honorary Member

Bjørn Ursin is receiving Honorary Membership for a technical body of work and an illustrious academic and oil industry career that spans over four decades. His technical contributions have both depth and breadth, many starting new directions of research with some giving birth to new business opportunities. These include his work in seismic imaging in the angle domain, his original contributions to controlled-source electromagnetic technology, and his work on velocity analysis in transverse anisotropy, utilization of mode-converted events, and various novel seismic signal processing ideas. Honorary Membership culminates a series of honors for Bjørn Ursin. They include The Desiderius Erasmus Award for Lifelong Achievement and Honorary Membership (both EAGE 2008), The Statoil Research Prize (2003), The Conrad Schlumberger Award (EAGE 1993), The Norwegian Geophysical Award (1985), Editor of Geophysical Prospecting (1986–1989), and Assistant Editor of Geophysics (1995–1999).

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership 2010

Contributed by Lasse Amundsen and Martin Landrø

When you go to a conference in petroleum geophysics, you will almost always meet Bjørn Ursin. If you scan Geophysics, you will read several of Bjørn’s research papers every year. These two sentences describe Bjørn as a person and as an eminent scientist: he enjoys traveling the world, and his passion is research.

Bjørn has been a research geophysicist of international stature from virtually the moment he entered the scene. He started his career in 1975, before defending his Ph.D., as Head of Research and Development in the Geophysical Company of Norway (GECO). Here, he developed theory and methods for acquisition and processing for enhanced mapping of oil and gas. He became professor of applied geophysics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in 1989. In 2006, he became Statoil Research Professor and since 2008 he has been NTNU’s VISTA Professor in Statoil’s basic research program conducted with the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

Today, Bjørn can look back on one of the most significant contributions ever made to petroleum geophysics. He has published 117 journal papers, and 123 conference proceedings, and advised the exceptionally high number of 24 Ph.D.s. As an individual of great vision complemented by a warm personality and a fine sense of humor, he attracts talent from all over the world to his lab.

In terms of geophysical innovation, Bjørn is even more impressive. At the end of the 1970s, Bjørn was one of the first to perceive the importance of seismic inversion. He and colleagues presented in 1981 in Geophysics the physical principles for 3D inversion of reflection times, an obligatory reference for everyone working in traveltime inversion. In 1983, Geophysics printed one of the most important articles ever published on the unified treatment of acoustic, elastic, and electromagnetic wave propagation in horizontally layered media. The paper was then deemed too theoretical, was not fully understood, nor appreciated. This dramatically changed a decade later when it inspired those who invented and worked on four-component ocean-bottom seismic and, later, sea-bed logging, or marine CSEM. Today, Bjørn is actively working on new geophysical problems, utilizing his endless knowledge in signal theory, seismic imaging, electromagnetic inversion, and wave propagation. In his 35-year career, he has continuously produced a wealth of knowledge and delivered original, high-quality research results, many implemented in the industry.

Most importantly perhaps, Bjørn’s innate talent to understand the big objective of a given problem, followed by a thorough devotion to the intricate details before he zeroes-in on the solution, is present in all his research. The result is proper science that respects physics. One of Bjørn’s theses is that symmetries play a fundamental role in mathematical geophysics, and symmetries, when possible, must be used to uncover simple truths. Bjørn therefore, following ideas expressed by Emmy Noether more than a century ago on the connection between symmetry and conservation laws, is one of few with the scientific adeptness to write and articulate complex ideas in simple and understandable ways. Bjørn combines research with pleasure and travel. We believe that Bjørn, born in Danzig, Poland, can claim total coverage of this planet. His numerous tours have let him explore parts of the world unknown to seasoned travelers. No surprise then that he, in 1991, accepted the invitation from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Brazil and Petrobras to be a visiting professor in the Programa de Pesquisa e Pósgraduacão em Geofísica at UFBa. Bjørn established strong relations to Brazil, both professionally and later personally (his wife Maria Odete is Brazilian). Today, Brazil is his second home.

Bjørn Ursin is an international personality. But, first and foremost, he is an eminent professor and scientist, one of the greatest in the history of our profession. He is a role model for his colleagues and the new generation of research geophysicists. We honor him for his outstanding contributions and confidently await others.

Honorable Mention (Geophysics) 2003

Sverre Brandsberg-Dahl, Maarten V. de Hoop and Bjørn Ursin received 2003 Honorable Mention (Geophysics) for their paper Focusing in dip and AVA compensation on scattering-angle/azimuth common image gathers.[1]


  1. Brandsberg-Dahl, S., M. V. de Hoop, and B. Ursin (2003) Focusing in dip and AVA compensation on scattering-angle/azimuth common image gathers, GEOPHYSICS 68(1):232.

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