Honoring Bob Sheriff: Reservoir Geophysics and Interpretation

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Honoring Bob Sheriff: Reservoir Geophysics & Interpretation

by Fred Hilterman, Technical Chairman – 2012 GSH-SEG Spring Symposium

Bob Sheriff hardly needs any introduction because of his legacy in geophysics – 25 successful years at Chevron; 30 years of lecturing at the University of Houston (UH) and worldwide locations; 60 years of contribution to SEG; a list of publications that includes the best seller for SEG, "Encyclopedic Dictionary of Exploration Geophysics" that serves as foundational content for the SEG Wiki; and finally, a legacy of geoscientists worldwide who consider Bob as one of their true friends. This year, Bob was honored at the 2012 GSH-SEG Spring Symposium. In the January issue of the GSH Journal, Bob and Margaret Sheriff shared some of their worldwide highlights during the past 60 years of Bob's geophysical career. Let's recap a few of these highlights:

Similar to other SEG well known geophysicists who were classical physicists, Bob entered the work force during WWII in the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, Tenn. As luck would have it Margaret was a chemist at Oak Ridge and this was the beginning of their 66-year marriage. When Bob returned to Ohio State to finish his PhD, he found himself teaching because of the lack of faculty for the many returning veterans. The dream of living in California became a reality when Standard Oil of California (Chevron) offered Bob a job at their new research facility in La Habra. Ever the practical scientist, Bob requested experience in operations and was shortly transferred to New Orleans. Over the next few years, Bob was worked in San Francisco, Cuba, Trinidad, and finally in Western Australia. During this assignment a short company pamphlet on the glossary of geophysical terms was expanded and distributed by Bob to university students as a remembrance of his company.

Yes, this was the birth of SEG's Encyclopedic Dictionary. The Dictionary led to one of Bob's prouder career moments in 1969 when SEG awarded him the Kauffman Gold Medal for his contribution to exploration geophysics. Bob retired from Chevron in 1975 and went with Seiscom Delta to work alongside our former honoree, Tury Taner. Their collaboration resulted in the article "Complex Seismic Trace Analysis", which might be considered the birth of modern Seismic Attribute Analysis. In 1973, Bob started lecturing at UH and joined them as a full professor in 1980. Oops, let's back up and remember that Bob was one of the original instructors for AAPG in their highly successful course on Seismic Stratigraphy that started in 1975. This led to his book Seismic Stratigrapy, another of Bob's numerous books. Today, Dr. Sheriff is an emeritus professor and still an active participant at GSH functions.

Along the way, Bob and Margaret have left a philanthropic legacy by endowing the coveted Sheriff Scholarships through the SEG Foundation and also have endowed two Chaired Professorships at UH. When we use the word legacy it is multi-faceted for Bob Sheriff: as a worldwide lecturer, innovator of lasting science, prolific author of best-selling geophysics books, educational philanthropist and of course, mentor and friend of uncountable geoscientists.