Geoffrey Dorn

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Geoffrey Dorn
Geoff Dorn 2015 headshot.jpg
Membership SEG, EAGE and AAPG
BSc Astrophysics
MSc Geology
PhD Exploration Geophysics
BSc university University of New Mexico
MSc university University of New Mexico
PhD university University of California, Berkeley

Geoffrey Dorn received his BS in Astrophysics (1973) and his MS in Geology (1978) from the University of New Mexico, and a PhD in Exploration Geophysics (Engineering Geoscience, 1980) from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined ARCO's Exploration and Production Technology in the fall of 1980, spending his first two years in seismic acquisition research. From 1982–1987 he directed ARCO's interactive interpretation research group, leaving management in January of 1987 to pursue technical research interests in 3D seismic horizon and volume attribute analysis, and 3D visualization. In 1993 Geoff was named an ARCO Research Advisor for his contributions in 3D seismic interpretation and visualization research and technical service. He returned to management in 1997 to direct ARCO's Visualization Technology group. A member of the SEG Research Committee since 1990, he has helped organize numerous post-convention research committee workshops, was Chairman of the 1993 SEG Summer Research Workshop on 3D Seismology, and is a District Representative to the SEG. He received the SEG Cecil Green Enterprise Award in 2015 and was chosen as the Spring 2002 SEG Distinguished Lecturer. His interests include 3D visualization, 3D seismic interpretation, attribute analysis and geophysical reservoir characterization. He is an active member of the SEG, EAGE and AAPG.

SEG Cecil Green Enterprise Award 2015

We recognize Geoff Dorn for his entrepreneurial spirit and success. In 2006, Geoff moved from academia to private industry by founding TerraSpark Geosciences, LP, to research and prototype new seismic interpretation and 3D visualization methods. Giving up a paying job and at times going without salary or other income, he performed the work initially in his basement. Almost all the start-up capital came out of Geoff’s savings. In 2010, with venture-capital investment, he founded TerraSpark Geosciences, LLC, to commercialize the research. In both cases, he performed all the duties of a founder, developed a strategic plan, risked his own money to fund the enterprise, and managed the company. The methods and software that Geoff created have been leading-edge contributions to the interpretation of seismic data worldwide. In 2014, TerraSpark was acquired by CGG.

Biography Citation for the SEG Cecil Green Enterprise Award 2015

by Joe Dominguez

After earning his Ph.D. in exploration geophysics in 1980 from the University of California–Berkeley, Geoff Dorn joined ARCO Oil and Gas Company and worked in the geophysical research group. During the next 20 years of increasing prominence at ARCO, Geoff received numerous recognitions for his achievements in seismic interpretation and visualization research, most notably the ARCO Corporate Outstanding Technical Achievement Award. Geoff did not confine his efforts to the research lab but also sought out ARCO interpreters who could demonstrate for him the most difficult interpretation challenges from around the world. These collaborative efforts were recognized for his contributions to reserves, revenue, and operations impacts and formed the beginnings of his research into new interpretation techniques, which would eventually become the Insight Earth software.

While contributing to ARCO’s success, Geoff was also contributing to the SEG community. Geoff became active in SEG in the 1980s by presenting his research at annual meetings. During the 1990s, he organized and co-chaired several SEG Research Workshops and served on the SEG Interpretation Committee, Research Committee, and Annual Meeting Technical Program Committee. In 2002, Geoff was selected as an SEG Distinguished Lecturer. He has continued to contribute to SEG standing committees and Annual Meeting Technical Program Committees, and to publish in The Leading Edge and other industry journals.

In 2000, BP bought ARCO, and subsequently the ARCO Research Center was closed. During that transition, Geoff brokered a deal between BP and the University of Colorado, creating the BP Center for Visualization at the Boulder campus, where Geoff served as executive director. During that time, he also served as a Research Professor in geological sciences and computer sciences. He hired geoscientists and attracted graduate students to work at the center. Geoff also formed an industry-funded research consortium, the GIVC, which is still active to this day, to support the continued development of leading-edge seismic-interpretation technology.

In 2006, Geoff Dorn raised capital and contributed personal finances to form TerraSpark Geosciences, LLP, to purchase the BP Center from the university and begin the move toward producing commercial software. He operated initially out of the basement of his home, but it was only a few years before it was time to open a sales office. Throughout these business transitions, the petroleum-company members of the GIVC remained and continued to support the research and commercialization of the interpretation software. In 2008 the TerraSpark partnership decided to develop commercial interpretation software and sell it to clients in the industry. TerraSpark secured its first commercial customer in early 2009.

Geoff sought and secured additional capital funding, again with additional personal investment, and formed TerraSpark Geosciences, LLC. In this new company, Geoff served as president, CEO and chairman of the board and opened a sales office in Houston, Texas. This company continued the employment of scientists he had hired for his research company and hired new geoscientists and sales-account managers to staff the new office. TerraSpark grew to include the formation of a consulting-services business unit in 2011. During that time, several additional patents were granted for Geoff’s unique approaches to seismic interpretation, adding to the intellectual property and patents awarded during his ARCO research years.

In January 2014, CGG purchased TerraSpark Geosciences, LLC. The software, the intellectual property, and the employees have all found a new home in a long-standing, well-respected geophysical services company with a global reach. Insight Earth is now used worldwide by companies in oil and gas exploration, production, geophysical services, and seismic processing. To see one’s vision through from initial research to becoming a commercially viable product requires not only enormous technical knowledge but also leadership, patience, persistence, business acumen, and a willingness to accept personal risk. It is rare to find all of these characteristics in one person.

Geoff Dorn’s vision and efforts have not just advanced the art of seismic interpretation but have fundamentally changed the way 3D seismic interpretation is done in our industry.

Spring 2002 SEG Distinguished Lecturer

The Role of Visualization in Resource Exploration and Development

The rapidly expanding application of visualization technology has the potential to fundamentally change the way companies conduct business in the oil and gas industry. Visualization technology has been used for years in exploration and development. Visualization is simply the graphical presentation of data in an intuitive fashion to reveal information. A bar chart, line graph, seismic section or reservoir map are all visualizations of data. Over the last five to ten years, the technology of visualization has advanced more and more rapidly, with improving resolution, interactivity and display size. The last three years have seen the growing acceptance of large collaborative and immersive visualization system in the upstream portion of the oil and gas industry.

Visualization on smaller desktop display systems focuses on discipline or "domain" specific applications (e.g. 3-D visualization applications used for 3-D seismic interpretation). These applications have demonstrated value through improving the accuracy, completeness and, to some extent, the efficiency of interpretation and reservoir modeling. These domain specific applications, however, provide only limited integration between disciplines, and little opportunity for collaboration between domain experts in front of the small screen.

The large collaborative semi-immersive and immersive visualization systems have the potential for broad application across the entire range of business, from the upstream to the downstream. These larger display systems, including large flat screens, curved screen theaters and fully immersive CAVETMs hold the potential to revolutionize the way business in conducted. These large systems facilitate the integration of data, and the integration and collaboration between members of interdisciplinary teams.

In it broadest sense, the term "immersive visualization" is used to describe not just the graphical display of data in 3-D, but the use of a wide variety of technologies to provide input to the user through a number of senses. The goal of this technology is to present the data or the environment to the user in an intuitive fashion and allow natural interaction with the data. In addition to graphical displays, the technologies involved include tracking systems, 3-D audio imaging and haptic systems. Tracking systems are used to track the user's viewing position and to appropriately update the display, or to track their hand position to enable interaction with the data in 3-D. Audio imaging in 3-D can be used in a variety of ways, including to presenting additional data or information to the user, or reinforcing some component of the visual display. Haptic systems incorporate the sense of touch into the human/data interaction.

The range of possible applications to business in the oil and gas industry includes data acquisition planning, data processing and interpretation, prospect generation and evaluation, prospect review meetings, integrated drilling planning, platform optimization, facilities design, maintenance and operation, training, virtual integrated teams, virtual specialists and telepresence in hostile environments. As this technology matures, and as it is applied broadly to both the upstream and downstream business, it will produce tremendous value through the reduction of cycle times and risk.

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