Henry Peacock

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Henry Peacock
H. B. Peacock headshot.jpg
President year 1941

Henry Bates Peacock (March 3, 1894-August 17, 1985) was a pioneering geophysicist. He was one of the founders of Texas Instruments. He served as the 1941-1942 SEG President.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Kenneth E. Burg

Geophysics is a new art and a new science, every development has taken place within one generation, and the progress that has been made in only fifty years is almost beyond comprehension. Progress of this nature requires wide dissemination of knowledge and the geophysical industry is unique, as is geology, in that the workers have always been ready, willing, and able to share technical knowledge and operating know-how with each other.

There are a few individuals who have been outstanding in their ability and willingness to share their knowledge with others, and it is due to these attributes that geophysics has progressed. Henry Bates Peacock is one of these individuals, and it is for this and many other reasons he is being awarded an SEG Honorary Membership.

I first met Dr. Peacock and his lovely wife, Helen, in 1926 while I was studying for my M. A. in physics at the University of Texas. Dr. Peacock had made several trips to the Austin campus to interview students when it suddenly dawned on me that maybe I would like to be a geophysicist instead of an engineer (I had a B. S. in E. E.). To help me decide, J. C. Karcher, the inventor of the reflection method, took me to visit the field and office operations of a refraction crew working the Balcones fault zone. The result was my joining Geophysical Research Corporation as observer and computer on Dr. Peacock's seismograph crew, and I have been closely associated with Dr. Peacock ever since.

Dr. Peacock received his M. A. in 1923 and his Ph.D. in physics in 1925 from the University of Iowa, working as an undergraduate teaching assistant. His bride to be, Helen, also worked her way through college, and they married as soon as he obtained his Ph.D. They then went to the University of Arizona, where Dr. Peacock taught physics. It was while they were at Stanford for summer teaching that Dr. Karcher, upon recommendation of Dr. Stewart, Dr. Peacock's professor at Iowa, sent him a telegram asking him to go to Tucson, Arizona to be interviewed by B. B. Weatherby. As a result, he joined the newly organized Geophysical Research Corporation as party chief of a refraction crew in September 1926.

In April 1971 in Oklahoma City at the Kickoff Luncheon of the 24th SEG Midwestern Meeting, Dr. Peacock received a Pioneer Plaque. One of Dr. Peacock's contributions in the pioneer phase was that of party chief of the reflection crew that went into various areas to evaluate the new methods. The crew went from Oklahoma to the Edward's Plateau in the World Pool, then to the alkali flats near McCamey, on to the Delaware Basin west of Pecos and then to the cap-rock near Portallis. In spite of all the talent on the crew, Dr. Peacock, Dr. Austin N. Stanton, Alfred Storm, C. C. Hutchinson, and myself, using hand dug shotholes, the crew failed to obtain any recognizable reflections, for reasons now well understood. Reflections were finally obtained in East Texas near Rusk.

Dr. Peacock pioneered the reflection work in the San Joaquin Valley in California in 1928. The basement faulting was mapped along the east side of the valley using near-critical angle reflections to improve energy return and to reduce seismic noise.

Geophysical Service Inc., was organized in 1930 to do contract reflection work, and Bates, as he is more familiarly known, was party chief of one of the four original crews. The crew mapped the Keokuk Falls field near Shawnee and the Carter-Knox field near Duncan, which was so large Bates had trouble convincing the client as to its validity. The crew went to East Texas where they discovered Long Lake and Cayuga.

Dr. Peacock moved to Houston in 1934 to supervise the Gulf Coast operations of GSI. During the succeeding years Bates trained many young party chiefs and computers in the obtaining and interpretation of four-way dip data. During this early technique-development phase, Bates did his teaching and training by association, rather than via direction or supervision. When he visited a field crew he would surround himself with records and maps and work late into the night to assure himself that an interpretational or technical concept was valid before he would discuss the idea with the party chief. This proved to be a very effective teaching method. His interest in teaching others continued even after he moved to Dallas in 1948 as President of GSI.

Dr. Peacock was Secretary-Treasurer of SEG in 1938-39, Vice-President in 1940-41, and President in 1941-42. He was one of the founders of SEG and is an Honorary Life Member of the Dallas Geophysical Society.

Bates has many hobbies: his sons and their families, his church, and his rocks. Bates and Helen were early members of the PSSOG Club (Picture Showing Silly Old Grandparents) and they are really proud of their three grandsons and three granddaughters. Dr. Peacock has been Sunday school superintendent of their church during summers in Boulder, Colorado, and he is a most respected member of the official board of the Highland Park Methodist Church. He has a beautiful collection of carefully cut and highly polished rocks to attest to his skill as a lapidary.

Dr. Peacock is truly loved and respected by a multitude of people in the exploration industry for his contributions to the art of geophysics and for his high technical and personal standards. They all rejoice with me for his being awarded an SEG Honorary Membership.


Geophyics, VOL VII, Number 3, July, 1942. Page 328

H. B. Peacock received his A.B. degree in 192I, M.S. in 1922, and Ph.D. in 1925 from the State University of Iowa with major in Physics. During the First World War he served for eighteen months in the Field Artillery Branch of the U. S. Army. After one year as Instructor in Physics at the University of Arizona, he entered the geophysical field with Geophysical Research Corporation in 1926. He has been associated with Geophysical Service, Inc. since its organization in 1930. He is a member of the American Physical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Seismological Society of America, and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, serving as President of the latter in 1941.

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