GOCAD Consortium

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GOCAD Consortium
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SEG Distinguished Achievement Award 2009

The Gocad Research Group and the GOCAD Consortium are jointly nominated for their pioneering development and innovation in the field of geomodeling technology over the past 20 years. The Gocad Consortium was created in 1989 by Jean-Laurent Mallet to financially support and control the research activities performed by the Gocad Research Group. This original funding system allowed Mallet to overcome some shortcomings of the classical institutional funding structures. It also allowed the Gocad Research Group to focus not only on academic problems but also on problems encountered in the industry through direct interaction with sponsors. The consortium currently has a membership of 20 companies and 113 universities.

Citation for the SEG Distinguished Achievement Award 2009

Contributed by J. M. Montel

Interpreting geophysical data calls for a realistic representation of accurate geological structure. Finding and manipulating 3D computer models is perfectly along the lines a geophysicist’s skills in mathematics, physical simulation and data acquisition and processing using computer codes, but also relies on significant geological expertise. The Gocad Consortium, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, was started to model subsurface structures with no compromise on accuracy in complex geological structures, including complex ones such as recumbent folds, salt diapirs, or heavily faulted domains.

Complex geological structures have been the primary target for the members of the Gocad Research Group since the early days. At a time where most CAD techniques used parametric surfaces describing continuous objects, the use of discrete models and the discrete smooth interpolation approach introduced by Jean-Laurent Mallet in 1989 allowed us to represent complex geological structures while honoring several types of data. For instance, the SEG-EAGE 3D overthrust model was built in 1993 by members of the Gocad Research Group in a matter of days using their Gocad software. Among other significant contributions of this group, one can quote the design of C2 interpolants over triangulated surfaces, the palinspastic restoration of structural models, innovative ray-tracing algorithms, structural uncertainty assessment methods and the far-reaching GeoChron theory.

The consortium was launched by Mallet with initial grants from Total, Elf and CGG, the support of the Nancy School of Geology, the ASGA foundation, and the CNRS. It was soon joined by a large number of major oil and gas companies, mining companies, hardware vendors, universities and geological surveys. Consortium members which significantly collaborated to the innovations fostered in the Gocad project include Chevron, CGGVeritas, Total, ConocoPhillips and many others. In 1997, a company called TSurf, now merged with Paradigm, was created by a group of former PhD students from Nancy School of Geology.

Since 1989, most of the oil and gas companies and more than 100 universities around the world have been members of the consortium, and 29 Gocad meetings have been organized in Nancy (France) and in the United States. The Gocad Consortium has been a powerful support for research and higher education, supporting 45 PhD theses related to this new technology at Nancy School of Geology. Publications related to the Gocad Consortium activity total more than 8000 pages of scientific reports, dozens of articles in scientific journals, abstracts for presentations at major technical meetings (such as SEG, AAPG, SPE, and EAGE), and two books published by Oxford University Press and EAGE.

Three years ago, Professor Mallet retired and gave the “steering wheel” to Guillaume Caumon, one of his former students who has been working as a member of the Gocad Research Group for the last ten years. Under the leadership of Professor Caumon, the Gocad consortium is starting a new era full of new exiting discoveries.