Jack Dvorkin

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Jack Dvorkin
Jack Dvorkin headshot.jpg
Membership Honorary Member
BSc Continuum Mechanics and Mathematics
PhD Continuum Mechanics and Mathematics
PhD university Moscow State University

Jack Petrovich Dvorkin earned his PhD in 1980 and MS and BSc in 1974 in Continuum Mechanics and Mathematics, all from Lomonosov Moscow University. Currently, he is a faculty member and program leader for Rock Science Program at the College of Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences at King Fahd University in Saudi Arabia, College of Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences. In 1989-2017, he worked as a senior research scientist in Rock Physics Laboratory at Stanford University. Between 1974 and 1989, he worked in the petroleum industry in the USSR. He has co-authored 180 scientific papers, six books, and nine U.S. patents. In 2014, he was awarded SEG Honorary Membership. The same year, he received the ENI Award, New Frontiers of Hydrocarbon, Upstream Section, for pioneering innovations in theoretical and practical rock physics for seismic reservoir characterization. He has pioneered Digital Rock Physics at Stanford, as well as serving on the Ingrain team between 2010 and 2016. He has taught numerous academic and professional courses in rock physics, worldwide. In the 2020 Stanford survey, he was listed among top 2% of scientists worldwide. His current interests are in experimental and theoretical rock physics; wireline data analysis for predictive analytical models; seismic data interpretation for physical properties of the subsurface; and digital rock physics.

2021 SEG Honorary Lecturer, Middle East and Africa

Modern rock physics – Challenges and solutions

Figure 1.  Discoveries from digital rock physics. Specific surface area versus porosity as computed on 27 subvolumes of 3D segmented digital volumes of Fontainebleau sandstone; Berea sandstone; and dune sand. A triangular (frown) pattern emerges with S increasing with increasing Ø in consolidated rock samples (Fountainebleau and Berea sandstones) and decreasing in granular unconsolidated sediment (dune sand)n.

It often appears that most questions in rock physics have been answered, and the only way to advance this science is by making it more complicated, be it by producing more and more involved mathematical models of elastic anisotropy usually not supported by data or delving into sophisticated poroelasticity where the number of inputs greatly exceeds anything experimentally available. Yet, by analyzing legacy or new laboratory and field data and/or asking new questions may generate tremendous opportunities for the emerging scientist. Seeing data with a fresh eye and coming up with such new questions is arguably the most difficult part of doing science. However, the return and satisfaction can be remarkable. Here we present a few examples of the aforementioned approach, including new laboratory measurements on the desert sand and tight gas sandstones, observations of failure in carbonate samples, and wireline gas shale data. We ask whether fundamental cross-property relations obtained at the laboratory or wireline spatial scales can be used in seismic data interpretation and offer some answers. Furthermore, we will address the issues of digital rock physics data acquisition and discuss whether and how these data can be exploited in the field (Figure 1). Finally, we will show how to embrace simplicity and how a basic scientific understanding of the nature of rock can be turned to practical advantages.

Additional Resources

A recording of the lecture is available.[1]

Listen to Jack discuss his lecture in The value and benefits of simplicity with Jack Dvorkin, Episode 126[2] of Seismic Soundoff, in-depth conversations in applied geophysics.

SEG Honorary Membership 2014 [3]

Jack Dvorkin contributes to our profession through his research and teaching a foundational understanding of rock physics. He is a pioneer in rock-physics transforms, allowing the industry to predict the seismic response of different reservoir conditions. Worldwide practitioners make use of his “contact-cement model,” “stiff-sand model,” and “soft-sand model” in understanding seismic signatures of clastic rocks.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Gary Mavko and Amos Nur

Jack Dvorkin is richly deserving of SEG Honorary Membership in recognition of his many and distinguished contributions to rock physics for geophysical exploration and reservoir characterization.

After earning graduate degrees in continuum mechanics from the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics of Moscow University, Jack began his research career at the Moscow Research Oil and Gas Institute and the Moscow Offshore Oil Institute. He joined the Stanford Rock Physics Laboratory in 1989, and since then has been a leader in advancing the use of rock physics for quantitative modeling and interpretation of geophysical data for exploration geophysics, reservoir characterization, and time-lapse monitoring.

Many of Jack’s contributions have emerged from his unique ability to derive and demonstrate practical quantitative tools, distilled from rigorous physical concepts and applied to the tremendous complexity of reservoir rocks and sediments. He never shies away from difficult problems, and at the same time, he never forgets that models must be robust and simple to survive the rigors of use in the field.

Jack pioneered the techniques of rock-physics diagnostics, which allow geophysicists to establish rigorous rock-physics transforms, based on well-log and/or laboratory data. These enable prediction of the seismic response of reservoir scenarios, from which seismic data can be interpreted in terms of the underlying rock and fluid properties and conditions of temperature and stress.

He introduced widely used tools such as the “contact-cement model,” the “stiff-sand model,” and the “soft-sand model,” which have become industry standards for understanding the seismic signatures of clastic rocks. He was one of the first to demonstrate useful P- and S-wave impedance models for gas hydrates. Along with Joel Walls and Gary Mavko, Jack led development of the first comprehensive commercial software package for rock physics.

Jack has been instrumental in establishing the viability of computational rock physics as a 21st-century virtual laboratory for rock properties over a broad range of geologic scales. He has written more than 140 papers, most of them published in Geophysics and The Leading Edge. With Gary Mavko and Tapan Mukerji, Jack coauthored The Rock Physics Handbook (first and second editions), which has played a tremendous role in making rock-physics technology accessible to both academia and industry. Jack is also the lead author of a new book, Seismic Reflections of Rock Properties, which appeared this year, with Mario A. Gutierrez and Dario Grana as coauthors.

Jack has a gift for teaching others how to participate fully in the scientific exploration process. His depth of knowledge in geophysics and related topics and his accomplishments as a scientist are tremendous. He can draw on these to support and guide students as they face the challenges of defining and then conducting Ph.D.-level research. Jack’s insights and patience provide students with support and confidence. His exceptional abilities as a scientist and his exceptional qualities as an individual make him a great teacher. He has trained and mentored more than 20 Ph.D. students, most of whom have taken leadership roles in the oil and gas industry. Jack has also taught SEG continuing education courses in rock physics and has advised and trained geophysicists from six continents.

He shared the 2014 ENI New Frontiers of Hydrocarbons — Upstream Prize with Tapan Mukerji, Gary Mavko, and Dario Grana

We are very fortunate to have Jack as a friend, as a colleague in exploration geophysics, and as an SEG member.


  1. https://doi.org/10.1190/e-learning_20211110
  2. https://doi.org/10.1190/seismic-soundoff-episode126
  3. SEG Honors and Awards Ceremony in Official Program and Exhibitors Directory, SEG Denver 26-31 October 2014 p.36-49.

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Jack Dvorkin
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