Craig Ferris

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Craig Ferris
Craig Ferris headshot.png
Latest company GraviMetrics Inc.
Membership Honorary Member

Craig Ferris (22 March 1913 - 14 January 2004) was a pioneer in the world of exploration geophysics. He founded GraviMetrics in 1980. Mr. Ferris was both an SEG Honorary Member and Life Member.


Prieto, C. (2004). ”Memorial.” The Leading Edge, 23(5), 494–494.

I first learned of Craig Ferris from his papers on gravity data applications to exploration. In 1970, he wrote that the use of gravity data could target stratigraphic prospects. This thought was clearly away from the norm; the standard use of gravity data then was limited to regional or reconnaissance applications. It was timely reading for me when I read it in 1976. I met him in Tulsa a few years later. SEG had sent him to critique our SEG Continuing Education lecture. I remember he stayed all day, sat in the back taking notes, and scared us to near death; we had a master in the audience. He later sent us a letter thanking us for our time given to SEG and complimenting us on our approach to G/M interpretation. Craig sent me one more letter in early 1982 with congratulations on the start-up of my new business. This is who Craig Ferris was; a man of science and business who had time for the start-ups.

Craig was a geophysical pioneer and a successful businessman. His first professional job was as a jug-hustler on a seismic crew for the American Seismograph Corporation in 1936; the following year he went on to Mott-Smith Corp. These were the days he called the “nomadic life” of being a doodlebugger. It was also the time when he was instructed on the use of a new instrument called a “gravity meter” by one of Dr. Mott-Smith’s former students, Sam Worden.

In 1943, Craig became a founding partner of E. V. McCollum and Company. They established themselves as geophysical contractors and operated seismic and gravity crews in North America, South America, and Africa for 37 years. During this time, he wrote two classic papers on gravity data applications in exploration. In 1980, he founded GraviMetrics, a proprietary gravity contracting business. I am not sure he ever retired.

He was a contributor to many societies, Boy Scouts, his church, and it’s safe to say his SEG. He had been a continuous member for 47 years, having joined SEG in 1957. He was dedicated to its success. He served as secretary-treasurer in 1963-64, and as chairman of the Business and Finance Committee (1958), SEG Membership Committee (1962), Building Committee (1964), original chairman of the Continuing Education Committee (1967), Scholarship Committee (1969), Foundation Trustees (1972), and Professional Affairs Committee (1972). In 1985, he took the helm of the SEG Museum Committee. He was generous with his time and a SEG Platinum contributor to the SEG Foundation. Craig was awarded SEG Life Membership in 1973 and Honorary Membership in 1987.

So another pioneer leaves us. Craig leaves us with his ideas and dedication

Sue, Craig’s wife and business partner of 69 years, died on 7 April 2004. Craig and Sue are survived by their son Jon and their grandchildren

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Jon Ferris

Craig Ferris is awarded Honorary Membership by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists to honor and recognize his "continuous service to the SEG and its members since he joined the Society" in 1939. The Honors and Awards Committee also cited his technical competence and high moral and professional standards in its recommendation to the Executive Committee.

As he approaches his golden anniversary of membership in SEG, it is certain that this honor is the culmination of his very distinguished and colorful career, and that he accepts it with utmost pride and quiet humility. His active and sustained service in many official capacities on behalf of the Society have been a labor of love which was fueled by the character and personality of our unique profession. Even though he may be considered one of our industry's pioneers, he continues to approach his work with unrelenting enthusiasm in conjunction with state-of-the-art technology.

Craig's appointive and elective service to the Society began in 1957 when he was appointed Chairman of the Business and Finance Committee. He served as Chairman of the SEG Membership Committee in 1962 and was elected Secretary-Treasurer of SEG in 1963, the same year he served as president of the Geophysical Society of Tulsa. Craig was a member of the SEG Building Committee in 1964 and was the original Chairman of the SEG Continuing Education Committee in 1967. He was Chairman of the Scholarship Committee in 1969 and Chairman of the Foundation Trustees in 1972. Craig also served as the original Chairman of the SEG Professional Affairs Committee in 1972, and was the SEG Representative to AIPG in 1980. Craig is currently the Chairman of the SEG Museum Committee, a position which he has held since its creation in 1985.

SEG honored Craig with Life Membership in 1973. The Geophysical Society of Tulsa elected him to honorary membership in 1974.

In addition to being a member of SEG for 48 years, Craig is a charter member of the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and has maintained continuous membership in this society for 42 years. He has also been a member of AAPG for 42 years.

Craig received an A.B. degree in physics in 1934 from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas at the height of the depression. He attended graduate school for two years at the University of Oklahoma on a scholarship prior to accepting employment with the American Seismograph Company in 1936. Elliott Sweet, vice-president of the American Seismograph Corporation, offered Craig his first job in geophysics as a jug-hustler on a seismic crew working out of Bay City, Texas for $4 a day. Craig joined the rapidly expanding firm of Mott-Smith Corporation in 1938 to begin his long career in the gravity business. He was instructed on the use of a new instrument called a "gravity meter" by one of Dr. Mott-Smith's former students, Sam Worden. Craig worked on Mott-Smith gravity crews from 1938 to 1943 covering territory from the Gulf Coast into Canada.

In September 1943, Craig and E. V. (Mack) McCollum, chief geophysicist of the Mott-Smith Corporation, and their wives Sue and Corine, founded the E. V. McCollum and Company in a partnership and moved to Tulsa to establish themselves as geophysical contractors. Craig and Mack operated gravity (and seismic) crews in North America, South America, and Africa for 37 years until 1980 when the partnership was dissolved, and Craig and Sue founded Gravimetrics. This proprietary contracting business is one of the very few that has not been merged into another company over 44 years of riding the cyclical, roller-coaster, and boom-bust behavior of the geophysical contracting business. During this time, Craig has published several noteworthy papers on the gravity method. He has also been honored twice by his alma mater, Friends University. Craig received the Friends University Distinguished Alumni Award in 1971 and an Honorary Doctor of Law degree in 1974.

Although Craig has more than met the challenge of a career in geophysics, I am certain he is most thankful to Elliott Sweet for his encouragement and for affording his first opportunity to work in the field of geophysics. I am also certain that he realizes he would not have achieved the high degree of success that he has had, which includes receipt of this Honorary Membership, without the love, support, encouragement and complementary contributions of his doodlebugging wife of 53 years, Sue.

The geophysical profession is unique and fascinating. Our Society is what it is today because of the countless hours which have been donated by a multitude of individuals over many years. This award this year, focuses on one of many individuals who helped build this Society into a world-class organization. Craig has honored us with many years of distinguished service to our Society. We now honor him for all he has done for SEG and the exploration community.


Prieto, C. (2004). ”Memorial.” The Leading Edge, 23(5), 494–494.