Mike Graul

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Mike Graul
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Membership Honorary Member

Mike Graul is awarded SEG Honorary Membership for his distinguished contribution to the profession of exploration geophysics though his service to the Society. This service has taken the form of deep involvement in continuing education for geophysicists. Mike excels in clear, insightful presentation and intuitive analogs. His courses in deconvolution, AVO, and static corrections, all developed for SEG, are still presented regularly through the continuing education program.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

I’m sure many readers of this citation expect an accompanying cartoon that underscores some aspect of Mike Graul’s life. After all, he is famous for seeding his various courses with clever cartoons that demonstrate theoretical concepts. As this honor recognizes, it’s a challenge not to be attentive in Mike’s courses and, thus, it’s a challenge not to learn from his lectures.From the beginning of his career more than 40 years ago, Mike has been developing signal-processing techniques and unifying them with field-acquisition techniques via such diverse concepts as complex-trace analysis,

Radon filtering, and array properties. Based on his initial research, Mike developed and presented a wide variety of courses to more than 70 different oil and mineral companies in more than 20 countries. With more than 5000 attendees at his courses, Mike’s significance to the geosciences should be the envy of any retiring professor. His courses have been offered by SEG, AAPG, SPE, University of Houston, Colorado School of Mines, Stanford, University of Missouri (Rolla), Imperial College, and other private institutions. His co-instructors have included some of the most respected figures in our industry—Jon Claerbout, Tury Taner, Sven Treitel, Larry Lines, and Gerry Gardner. I’ve been lucky to be an educational sidekick with him for some 23 years, and I continue to marvel at his innovative presentations.

His course notes, which are continuously updated, are a valued asset for both practical and theoretical geophysicists. Numerous geophysical rules-of-thumb and simplified derivations that abound in the literature can be traced to Mike’s lucid notes. Numerous attorneys and judges associated with court cases related to geophysics have enjoyed and benefited from his expertise and notes. In fact, I remember a judge who claimed to have taught his wife geophysics from Mike’s notes. Mike received his BS (geophysics) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1957 and then began his career at Chevron as a field-crew seismologist in the swamps of Louisiana. During the next 23 years, he served in a variety of assignments in acquisition, processing, interpretation, management, and research. When 3D seismic became the hot topic in the early 1970s, I investigated some early patents that he had co-authored for Chevron on 3D crossline imaging. These were leading-edge concepts, similar to the current geophysical topics that are always present in his notes. In the late 1970s, Mike joined the University of Houston Geoscience Department as an adjunct professor teaching graduate courses.

In 1980, he left Chevron and founded Exploration Education Consultants. His schedule immediately became extremely busy as he offered a variety of geophysical courses worldwide. In addition, he co-founded and is currently vice president of Research and Development for the seismic processing company, TexSeis. TexSeis is an “outsource” research center for the many companies that no longer have R&D organizations. It also provides Mike an avenue to expand and update material for his numerous geophysical courses.

One of the early signs that Mike was going to excel in teaching can be found in his involvement as a coach of youth baseball and football. When his children were in high school, Mike used his booming voice to announce their Friday night football games. Sports are still an integral part of Mike’s life especially when involving Texas A&M or Notre Dame. In fact, stop by space F13 when you’re attending the next football tailgate party at A&M … it’s sponsored by the Graul clan.

All who have benefited from his lectures and more importantly from his friendship are thankful to Mike, one of our most respected educators, and wish him the best as he receives SEG Honorary Membership.

Special Commendation 1999

SEG is honoring Mike Graul with a Special Commendation for his meritorious service as an SEG and industry educator. For the last three decades, Mike has taught basic-toadvanced courses covering linear systems analysis, deconvolution, statics, migration, data processing, field-acquisition design, AVO, etc. With dedication, Mike has transformed many of our complicated algorithms into a series of simple sketches. Geoscientists, worldwide, have benefited from these comprehensive and lucid notes.

Biography Citation for the SEG Special Commendation

Contributed by Fred Hilterman

Education . . . what better vehicle is there to advance SEG’s primary objective: “to promote the science of geophysics?” In this regard, as stated by the Honors and Awards Committee, SEG proudly recognizes Mike Graul as an educator and mentor to fellow geoscientists. During the past 20 years, I’ve been a coinstructor with Mike and a participant to his lucid presentations. Those who have attended his courses, and this numbers over 5000 geoscientists, warmly remember Mike’s efforts to make them both educational and fun. No matter if it’s an entry-level course on basic geophysics or an advanced course on deconvolution, it’s a challenge not to be attentive and, thus, it’s a challenge not to learn.

His continuously updated course notes are valued by both practical and theoretical geophysicists. They are masterfully organized knowledge of geophysics that are applicable for self-tutoring. I have visited oil companies and universities and heard quotes from Mike’s notes. These quotes are regarded as the geophysical standard. Throughout his notes, numerous cartoons underscore important principles. But his notes are only half the story.

Mike has developed a unique vernacular that is sprinkled throughout his lectures. As an example, by defining Poisson’s ratio of a rock in terms of its “fat-ticity” factor, he offers the participant a unique and fun way to remember a basic concept. Even though he stresses geophysics as the observation of facts, he emphasizes that facts are not permanent and it is your responsibility to recognize facts from “false prophets.” He often underscores this point, to amusement of his audiences, with a mock description of “spinalong” acquisition, a hypothetical new tool.

Mike received his bachelor’s (geophysics) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1957 and then began his career at Chevron as a field-crew seismologist in the swamps of Louisiana. During the next 23 years, he served in a variety of assignments in acquisition, processing, interpretation, management, and research. When 3-D seismic became the hot topic in the early 1970s, I remember investigating some early patents that he had coauthored for Chevron on 3-D cross-line imaging. These were leading-edge concepts, similar to the current geophysical topics in his notes. In addition, Mike’s work over 20 years ago on complex trace analysis, Radon filtering, and array analysis is still used.

In the late 1970s, Mike joined the University of Houston Geoscience Department as an adjunct professor. In 1980, he left Chevron and founded Exploration Education Consultants. His schedule was immediately overflowing with offers to teach a variety of geophysical courses worldwide to major oil and mineral companies. This full schedule continues today. In addition, Mike has lectured and presented courses at Colorado School of Mines, Stanford, University of Missouri (Rolla), and Imperial College. Besides being a long-time favorite for the SEG’s Continuing Education Department, he lectures for SPE, AAPG, and numerous private vendors.

In 1986, Mike cofounded TexSeis to implement high-resolution techniques and AVO applications developed in conjunction with his consulting services. Over the years, TexSeis has become a full-service processing center that also acts as an “outsource” research center for companies that no longer have R&D organizations. It provides Mike the avenue to expand and update material for his geophysical courses.

For two decades, I have marveled at the energy level that Mike has maintained. It’s common for Mike to enjoy a leisurely dinner and technical discussion with his course participants and then to work to 3 a.m. preparing notes for an upcoming course or on a research project. All who have benefited from his lectures and, more importantly, friendship are thankful to Mike and congratulate him on this award.

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