Gu Gong-Xu

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Gu Gong-Xu
Gu Gong Xu headshot.png
Membership Honorary Member

Gu Gong Xu (1908-1992) was a pioneering Chinese geophysicist.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Kun Hua Chen

There will be no breakthrough in exploration geophysics if we just emphasize the practical application without having solid foundation of the basic theories to support. Therefore, we must go back to the basics. Even though it is a very slow process and a long-term commitment, it will bear fruit at the end. There is no shortcut for the significant breakthrough in the new technology.

This was the imposing direction Gu Gong Xu gave young Chinese geophysicists (I believe it applies to their American counterparts as well) in a recent meeting. Gu still technically active and original in thinking at the age of 80 is one of the "grand old men" of Chinese geophysics. His creative career spans more than 50 years as he continues to make outstanding contributions to the profession of exploration geophysics and earthquake seismology. And today, his intensity and enthusiasm continue to inspire the younger generation of geophysicists in his country.

Born in China in 1908, he graduated from the Ta-Tong University with a B.S. degree in physics in 1929. He spent three years as a teaching assistant in the Department of Physics of Che Chiang University. In 1934, he obtained full fellowship from the Chinese government to study in the United States. He graduated from Colorado School of Mines with an M.S. Degree in exploration geophysics in 1936 and completed two years of research at the California Institute of Technology as research scientist.

In 1938, Gu returned to his homeland where his career in geophysics has comprised research, teaching, establishing professional organizations (including the Chinese Seismological Society and Chinese Geophysical Society), and serving as editor of the Journal of Seismology and the Journal of Geophysics.

During 1959-66, Gu and a group of his students and colleagues conducted the largest scale exploration for minerals and oil in China. He started from scratch, training the technical people, establishing the techniques, and building various equipment. In less than 10 years, the group discovered many minerals (iron, coal, copper, aluminum, zinc, etc.) and oil fields (including the giant oil field in Daqing).

Although Gu's illustrious career has been served almost entirely in China, he has contributed to SEG indirectly. From my first visit to China in 1979 with the first SEG delegation, it was clear that Gu was instrumental in organizing the meeting and in forging new relations with geophysicists in the U.S. This year marked the 10th year of scientific cooperation between the SEG and geophysical societies in China.

Returning to China as he did in 1938 when there were very few geophysicists one can infer that at least two full generations of Chinese geophysicists owe some of their training to Professor Gu. His influence on the profession has been enormous; he is, therefore, a most suitable addition to the present distinguished group of Honorary Members. We of the SEG are greatly honored to bestow the Honorary Membership on Gu Gongxu.


Proubasta, D. (1989). ”Gu Gongxu.” The Leading Edge, 8(12), 10–14.[1]