Derecke Palmer

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Derecke Palmer
Derecke Palmer headshot.jpg
Latest company University of New South Wales
BSc Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
BSc university University of Sydney
PhD university University of New South Wales

Derecke Palmer is noted for creating two new methods for the interpretation of seismic refraction profiles. These are the refraction convolution section (RCS) and the generalized reciprocal method (GRM). The former method (RCS) anticipated seismic interferometry methods.

He is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales.


Derecke Palmer is a leading international authority on near surface seismic refraction methods. He is the originator of the generalized reciprocal method (GRM) and the refraction convolution section (RCS).

His current research interests are largely focussed on the processing of full waveform seismic refraction data with Seismic Unix, in order to generate detailed compressional and shear wave models of the near surface. These methods can be applied to statics corrections for seismic reflection data, especially where the weathering and sub-weathering are complex and where low signal-to-noise ratios occur, such as sand dunes, windy environments or near infrastructure. Other applications include the extraction of detailed traveltime and amplitude attributes, in order to facilitate more comprehensive characterization of the near-surface for geotechnical, exploration and natural resource management, and to generate detailed starting models for traveltime and full waveform inversion. Coming research projects include the computation of amplitude statics, in order to improve AVO analyses in carbonate reservoirs in arid environments.[1]

Reginald Fessenden Medal Biography Citation

Contributed by Edward D. Tyne

Derecke Palmer was awarded the Reginald Fessenden Medal in 1995.

This award is a special recognition for a unique technical contribution to exploration geophysics, such as an invention or a theoretical or conceptual advancement. In reviewing the achievements that characterize the award and the personalities behind those achieve ments, it is evident that the Reginald Fessenden Award is also a recognition of a special breed of geophysicist who holds a driving vision for those elusive breakthroughs, a commitment to achievement through scientific excellence, and a capacity to transmit knowledge and enthusiasm for a new way ahead. Derecke Palmer, the 34th recipient of this award, is one of this breed who portrays boundless enthusiasm for the science of seismic exploration and is also the first Australian SEG member to be so honored. Over the past two decades, the evolution of seismic refraction has been accelerated by his ideas, publications, teaching, and particularly his innovation of the generalized reciprocal method (GRM) for seismic refraction processing and inversion.

Derecke was one of the first geophysics graduates from the University of Sydney, which pioneered the teaching of geophysics at the undergraduate level in Australia. In 1967, he joined the Geological Survey of New South Wales (in Sydney) and tried his hand at virtually every geophysical method and application. By 1970 Derecke had developed a strong interest in refraction methods and, guided by the work of Laric Hawkins, experimented with field methodology, data processing, and interpretation. It culminated in the 1980 SEG monograph, The Generalized Reciprocal Method of Seismic Refraction Interpretation, which was based on his master's thesis and is widely regarded as a seminal work on exploration refraction seismology. The monograph and a comprehensive tutorial text have been part of the many GRM short courses that he has presented in North America, Australia, and Africa, the most recent of which has been presented as an SEG Continuing Education course.

Derecke has addressed virtually all of the standard problems of refraction seismology and in most cases has been able to provide a solution with the GRM. In the 1980s his research focused on the undetected layer problem and later on the curved raypaths and seismic anisotropy, which he investigated as part of his studies for the more comprehensive book, Refraction Seismics (Geophysical Press, 1986). More recent research has included the resolving power of refraction methods for detecting narrow low-velocity intervals for detailed geotechnical applications, the ambiguities in determining overburden velocities, and the GRM in the context of general inversion theory and statics computations. Accordingly, it is understandable that most seismologists regard the GRM as one of those innovations which is at once both a valuable generalization and a practical interpretation method. The GRM is now an essential component in the standard seismic texts and commercial seismic software systems.

Derecke's work was recognized in 1992 by the Australian SEG which awarded him the Grahame Sands Award for Innovation in Applied Geoscience. The citation for this award stated that the "GRM is one of the most significant innovations in refraction seismology in more than 50 years."

Derecke lives in a small farm community on the outskirts of Sydney with his wife Deborah and his two sons Evan and Heath. They provide an environment of support for the special contribution that Derecke gives to his science and his teaching.

Derecke is an original and inventive thinker and a truly dedicated geophysicist. His enthusiasm for his science and his natural teaching ability perfectly complement his commitment to the education and training programs for young earth scientists in Australia, besides his continuing worldwide short courses.

The science of geophysics has been greatly enhanced by Derecke Palmer who has given much and still has much to give. He is a worthy recipient of the Reginald Fessenden Gold Medal.


  1. Dr Derecke Palmer. School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales.[1]

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Derecke Palmer
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