Fred Hilterman

From SEG Wiki
(Redirected from Fred J. Hilterman)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Fred Hilterman
Fred J. Hilterman headshot.jpg
Latest company Geophysical Development Corporation
Membership Honorary Member
BSc Geophysical Engineering
PhD Geophysics
BSc university Colorado School of Mines
PhD university Colorado School of Mines

Fred J. Hilterman received an engineering degree and Ph.D. in Geophysics from the Colorado School of Mines. During his tenure with Mobil (1963-1973), his assignments ranged from field work and prospect evaluation to Activity Leader at the Field Research Laboratory. After leaving Mobil in 1973, he joined the Geology Department at the University of Houston where he was Professor of geophysics and co-founder of UH Seismic Acoustic Laboratory. In 1981 Hilterman co-founded Geophysical Development Corp (GDC) and was Vice-President of Development. In 2020, Fred co-founded HSB Geophysical where he is Chief Scientist.

Fred is a long-standing member of SEG, EAGE, and AAPG, with honorary memberships in SEG and GSH. His services to the societies include Associate Editor of Geophysics, Chairman of TLE Editorial Board, SEG and AAPG Distinguished Lecturer, and both Technical and General Chairman of SEG Annual Meetings. Fred received the SEG Best Paper Award, Best Presentation Award, and Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal. He has been an instructor for SEG and AAPG Continuing Education courses since the 1970s. Fred was the 1996-97 SEG President.

Biography Citation for Honorary Membership

Contributed by John W. C. Sherwood

The difficulty in preparing a citation for Fred Hilterman is in keeping it brief. His accomplishments are many, his interests diverse, his energy prodigious, and his brain always active. He thrives on games and sports and can be intensely competitive, as many will agree. Geophysics provides both fun and intellectual challenge to Fred, and the profession benefits greatly from his enthusiasm, creativity, and persistence.

Early Years and Education

Fred was born in 1941 and grew up in Pittsburgh, then Denver. He received a scholarship from the State of Colorado (1959) which he applied at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) since it was strong in physics, mathematics, and the work ethic. Fortunately for us, Fred chose to major in geophysics.

At this time he met, courted, and married Kathi, a very capable young lady with her own keen sense of fun and adventure. They are an extremely talented combination which proved effective in following a Mobil seismic field crew around Texas and Louisiana through 1963-66. Then it was back to CSM for a PhD (1966-70) on Mobil and NASA scholarships.

Fred's thesis work was a typical example of what his energy, enthusiasm, insight, and talent can accomplish. This thorough and innovative work on analog seismic modeling and the theory of diffractions led to an extremely practical method for theoretical seismograms. "Three-dimensional seismic modeling" (1970) was a classic, highly advanced for that time, and won the Best Paper Award in Geophysics. The next year Fred won CSM's prestigious VanDiest Gold Medal.

Professional Career

Fred returned to Mobil in 1970 and applied his talents to the development and exploitation of bright spot technology within an effective multidisciplinary group under the leadership of Al Musgrave. Fred thrived on this interaction with exploration and production groups and regards it as one of his career highlights.

He then moved to the Mobil Field Research Laboratory and pioneered in 3-D field work before pursuing his love of teaching by becoming a professor at the University of Houston (1973). Fred rapidly made his presence known by combing with Keith Wang (in electrical engineering) to initiate the Seismic Acoustics Laboratory (SAL) with the objective of providing 3-D modeling developments for a consortium of industrial companies. He was able to get 26 sponsors and highly successful projects, and his efforts were recognized by SEG with the award of the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal (1984).

Fred's excess energy overflowed from the university into Amoco's internal geophysical training schools, helping to educate some 700 explorationists over a period of seven years. He was also the main developer, along with Don Larson, of GeoQuest's widely used Advanced Interpretive Modeling System (AIMS).

Geophysical Development Corporation

In 1981 Fred, Reg Neale, and myself cofounded Geophysical Development Corporation. Here Fred has exploited the amplitude-versus-offset (AVO) relationships between seismic data, well logs, petrophysics and the real world of interpretation, a problem tough enough to soak up even Fred's energy and creativity.


Fred's services to SEG are extensive: Continuing Education instructor, Distinguished Lecturer, Associate Editor of Geophysics, 1982-83 SEG Vice-President, TLE Editorial Board chairman, 1991 Annual Meeting Technical Program Chairman, 1995 Annual Meeting General Chairman, and now the 1995-96 SEG President-Elect.

As if that weren't enough to do, Fred and Kathi, aided and abetted by daughters Kellee and Nanci, bought a 200-acre ranch some 120 miles from Houston and renovated it with new fences, new pastures, bulls, 100 head of cattle, and a stable of ranch trucks, bulldozers, tractors, all-terrain vehicles, and endless equipment.

SEG is honored to recognize Fred's many contributions with this fitting award of Honorary Membership.

Biography Citation for the Maurice Ewing Medal 2006

Imagine improving upon the list of distinguished geophysicists who have received SEG’s most prestigious award.

The roll begins with such giants as Cecil Green, Hewitt Dix, Frank Press, and continues with Anstey, Treitel, Backus, Claerbout, Taner, Larner, Sheriff, Robinson, Berkhout, and 14 other scientific luminaries. It is apparent that this is the All-Star Team of Major League Geophysics. Yet this year’s medalist does indeed add luster to the roster of this most exclusive club because Fred J. Hilterman is a worthy and deserving recipient of this honor.

Seldom has anyone done so much in so many ways, in serving their profession. Fred has been identified as a researcher, teacher, leader, author, inventor, volunteer, entrepreneur, colleague, mentor, humanitarian—and that’s just on Tuesdays. He approaches all the many aspects of his busy life with boundless energy and enthusiasm. Rising from humble beginnings in Pittsburgh, during the Late Cretaceous, he earned Colorado School of Mines’ prestigious van Deist Gold Medal in 1970, the same year in which he was awarded SEG’s Best Paper in GEOPHYSICS.

Cecil Green Enterprise Award 2004

The founders of Geophysical Development Corporation (GDC) are being honored with the Cecil Green Enterprise Award for their courage and risk of personal resources and for its distinct and worthy contribution to the geophysical industry. GDC was founded on 21 April 1981 by Fred Hilterman, John Sherwood, and the late Reg Neale. Much of the financing came from the sale of personal assets like life insurance policies and annuities, and taking on personal debt. The group underwrote expenses the first year by teaching training courses at major oil companies and other such “odd jobs.” During GDC’s first nine months, none of the principals received a salary, and client projects and software development often kept them working until late in the evening and sometimes into the next day. Early projects included hazard studies in Alaska and conventional projects in the Bering Sea, Africa, the North Sea, West Texas, and Algeria. GDC was highly respected in the seismic community as a company that was on the forefront of developing new technology. In addition to SOLID, an early 3D elastic modeling program, GDC developed tomography, depth imaging, anisotropy, and AVO techniques that both advanced the state-of-the-art and added to profitability. GDC was purchased by Geokinetics in the fall of 1997. Sadly, Reg developed cancer in January 2000; he fought a tough battle until his death in November of that year. John left the company in the fall of 1998 to become a partner in Applied Geophysical Software. Fred stayed with the company through his five-year contract and left recently to teach full time at the University of Houston.

Biography Citation for the Cecil Green Enterprise Award

Contributed by Mike Graul From Moosejaw to Melbourne, from Cut-and-Shoot to Calcutta, wherever geophysics is spoken, the Hilterman name is as familiar as Coke or McDonald’s. Fred, the irrepressible Seismic Icon, is renowned, yet hardly anyone knows the whole story.

In academic circles, Dr. Hilterman, Distinguished Research Professor with the University of Houston Geosciences Department, is widely respected for his pioneering work in diffraction theory, 3D modeling, and the analysis of seismic amplitudes. To students, this multifaceted teacher is a paragon of profound knowledge, making geophysics entertaining, while imparting insight that somehow makes higher-order partial differential equations seem useful and amusing. His mentoring methods extend to astounding feats in which unbreakable filament tape is easily snapped by his nimble fingers, and rolls of masking tape are sailed well over 100 yards to the amazement of colleagues who bet against him.

Few men have had an impact on their industry, or altered its course, in the dramatic fashion of Fred Hilterman. Throughout his storied career, replete with service, science, inventions, lectures, publications, courses, and consultations, he has left an indelible mark of excellence and enlightenment. But it is not for his many academic and intellectual achievements that we honor Fred today; nor is it for his relatively unsung abilities as a grandfather, rancher, raconteur, bon vivant, body builder, erstwhile centerfold, or nine-ball ninja down at JR’s Sports Bar. No, today we recognize Fred for his entrepreneurial skills and achievements.

Back in 1981, three gentlemen, all seasoned veterans of big oil and geophysical contracting, formed a company which became the standard for avant garde seismic services. The unlikely, gifted, and volatile combination of the late Reg Neale, John Sherwood, and Fred Hilterman created the Geophysical Development Corporation on borrowed money (23% interest) and the hope that their combined talents would sustain them through the rough seas of those early years fraught with risks which so often scuttle fledgling enterprises. Going without salaries, and utilizing the considerable talents in Fred’s own family, especially those of his beautiful wife, Kathi, GDC rapidly rose from debt to distinction. From inception through sale to Geokinetics, Fred remained as vice president of development. Through his efforts the company became a world leader in the integration and calibration of petrophysical and seismic data, lifting it to the status of industrial giant in the field of AVO and other amplitude-related exploration and development applications.

While GDC became successful, both from a technical and financial point of view— not the biggest, but always among the best and brightest— Fred’s business philosophy remained the same: Don’t do it for the love of money, do it for the love of the work … love what you’re doing, work hard at it, and the money will come. For a long time, the three considered renaming their little creation Pro Bono Geophysics, but ultimately the clouds parted, and the sun shined upon GDC— just as Fred had predicted.

Incredibly, from the hectic early years of sacrifice and long hours in keeping the company afloat, through the prosperous and busy times of the new millennium, Fred Hilterman found the time and strength for prodigious accomplishments in service to SEG: CE instructor for over 25 years, vice president, Technical Program Chairman, TLE Editorial Board Chairman, general chairman for the 1995 Annual Meeting, SEG president, and DISC lecturer. Along the way he was honored by SEG with the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal and with its second highest honor, the prestigious Honorary Membership.

The Cecil Green Enterprise Award is the third jewel in the honorary crown so richly deserved by this geophysical renaissance man.

2001 SEG/EAGE Distinguished Instructor Short Course

Seismic Amplitude Interpretation

During the last 30 years, seismic interpreters have routinely applied bright spot and AVO technology for recognizing prospects and predicting lithology. New amplitude attributes were added to this technology as new exploration problems were defined. R&D continues in the field of amplitude interpretation, especially as E&P costs escalate as more severe environments are explored, such as the ultra-deepwater plays. With the high interest in reducing exploration risk, this course addresses the methodology of an amplitude interpretation and the subsequent benefits and limitations that one can expect in various rock-property settings.

The first part of the course reviews relationships between rock properties and geophysical observations. Practical problems illustrate the assumptions and limitations of commonly used empirical transforms. In addition, step-by-step procedures for conducting and verifying fluid-substitution techniques are presented.

The second part identifies the components of the seismic response that are best suited for differentiating pore-fluid from lithologic effects. Field examples emphasize what combination of seismic signatures should be expected for different rock-property environments.

The third part provides rules of thumb for predicting AVO responses and interpreting lithology from observed responses. These rules of thumb help select the best seismic attribute for calibrating amplitude to rock properties in different areas. A case history illustrates the rock-property calibrations that are needed.

The last part examines the numerous amplitude attributes that can be extracted from seismic to quantify an interpretation. The benefits and limitations of these attributes in soft to hard-rock environments are discussed first with model data and then with case histories.

Additional Resource

The accompanying textbook is available for purchase.[1]

SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award 1970

Fred J. Hilterman received the 1970 SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award for his paper Three-dimensional seismic modeling.[2]


External links

find literature about
Fred Hilterman
SEG button search.png Datapages button.png GeoScienceWorld button.png OnePetro button.png Schlumberger button.png Google button.png AGI button.png