J. F. Tessis

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J. F. Tessis (1933-1997)

Memorial [1]

Joarez Fagundes Tessis, a former member of SEG, passed away on 4 August 1997 in Rio de Janeiro, after a long illness.

Joarez, as he was known to his many friends, was born on 9 November 1933 in the town of Uruguaiana, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

He joined Petrobras in 1956 as an office boy and was successively promoted to administrative auxiliary and specialized technical auxiliary. From 1958 to 1962, while working full time, Joarez attended night classes at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where he earned a bachelor?s degree in physics. Soon thereafter he became a trainee in geology at Petrobras and transferred to a refraction seismic crew working in the hinterlands of Bahia. There he spent one year, after which he was sent to the head office in Salvador.

Upon completion of a Petrobras? sponsored geophysics course in 1968, Joarez was classified a Level I geophysicist. The following year, the company decided to establish a Digital Computer Center in Rio de Janeiro and Joarez was detached to the new facility to head a group of five geophysicists (in which I was included), assigned to take care of the processing of seismic reflection data. Except for Joarez, who had trained for six months at Western Geophysical headquarters in Houston, the rest of us had no experience at all in seismic data processing. Most of the work was done by Western personnel who came to Rio under contract to give operational support to the processing center. It took two years of hard work to learn all the complex tasks required to run a seismic data processing center. During that period Joarez, in addition to his normal obligations, became a kind of ?guru? for subjects such as land seismic data acquisition, the design of geophone arrays, Wiener filter, and predictive deconvolution. Thanks to his technical qualifications and a natural talent for human relations, Joarez was appointed manager of the newly organized Exploration Processing Data Division. Under his management, seismic data processing at Petrobras reached a status comparable to that of any of the world?s best processing centers. Joarez?s management style was decisively oriented toward accomplishing company objectives while holding employees in the highest consideration. The continuing development of his personnel?s scientific and technical capabilities was one of his paramount concerns. Toward this goal, he wrote several brochures on specific technical subjects, championed the practice of sending Brazilian geophysicists to the United States to pursue master?s degre es and doctorates, and promoted the idea of creating a graduate course in geophysics at the Universidade Federal da Bahia, open to everyone.

Because trips to scientific meetings outside on several occasions Joarez stayed back so that one of his staff could, in his stead, attend the SEG Annual International Meeting. ?I?mjust a bureaucrat,? he used to say, dismissing the be au geste. Joarez was the epitome of professional ethics, responsibility, loyalty, and friendship. By the time of Joarez?s retirement in 1988, the number of geophysicists in Petrobras had risen to about 300 (their interpretations of 2-D and 3-D seismic reflection data having contributed to the discovery of a vast number of oil fields offshore Brazil). Joarez?s emphasis on making higher education available to young geophysicists was instrumental toward the creation of master?s and doctorate programs at the Universidade Federal da Bahia. Similar programs are being implemented in other Brazilian universities. Last, but not least, it seems appropriate to mention that Joarez Fagundes Tessis was one of the founders of the Brazilian Society of Geophysicists. He is survived by his wife, Lucia, and four daughters: Thereza Cristina, Regina Lucia, Ana Claudia, and Marcia Cristina.


  1. The Leading Edge, May 1998, Vol. 17, No.5