John Caldwell

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John Caldwell
John G. Caldwell headshot.png
Membership Life Member


SEG is honoring John G. Caldwell with Life Membership for his years of dedicated service to SEG—in particular the area of fostering a greater understanding and awareness of seismic effects on marine environmental conditions. In the late 1990s, Jack initiated several collaborations between industry, academia, governments, professional societies (including AAPG, SEG, and SPE), industry trade organizations (IAGC and NOIA), and the Offshore Technology Conference through his tireless speaking and writings. Jack is widely recognized as the industry expert on seismic effects upon marine environments. The success of these multiyear efforts has led to a 2002 call for new research funding in this critical environmental area.

Biography Citation for SEG Life Membership

Contributed by Carl Sondergeld


It is reassuring to discover individuals who truly deserve commendation are justly recognized and rewarded. SEG, by awarding John G. (Jack) Caldwell Life Membership, has reinforced this belief. Recognition of Jack’s efforts is both a symbol of appreciation for his labors and a valuable investment in SEG’s future. Jack received a BS in mathematics from Davidson College and a PhD in geophysics (1978) from Cornell University. Immediately following graduation from Cornell, Jack joined Texaco’s Bellaire Research Laboratories. During this time, Jack worked on the Conoco group-shoot, shear-wave data, full-wave sonic logging, and rock physics. Prior to leaving Texaco, Jack coauthored a research proposal on seismic stratigraphy that became an active part of Texaco’s research program. In September 1980, Jack joined Marathon’s geophysical research group in Littleton, Colorado, and began working with VSP technology to interpret lithologic information from surface seismic. He moved to the Houston business unit and worked on various projects, including the early development of 3D seismic interpretation. In 1987, Jack joined Schlumberger Wireline and eventually became geophysical manager of North America. In 1992, he moved to GecoPrakla serving as chief geophysicist-Canada, managerReservoir Characterization and Monitoring, and manager of Reservoir Solutions. In these capacities he helped promote time-lapse seismics, multicomponent shear-wave technologies, and integrated solutions for reservoir characterization and management. Jack is currently Strategic Business Development manager for WesternGeco, helping to develop new capabilities and products in reservoir management and characterization.

Jack has labored unselfishly through the years in a variety of capacities; his work has benefited society and industry both. Jack’s involvement with SEG includes: serving on the Research Committee and as its chairman (1993-94), serving on the Development and Production Committee (1988-98), and SEG secretary-treasurer and chairman (1995-96) of the Finance Committee. In addition, Jack has chaired summer workshop committees. Among Jack’s strengths are his charisma, honesty, integrity, intellect, and objectivity. These traits permeate his every action and in combination create a naturally respected leader.

While managing his career and SEG activities, he has found time to be an outstanding and supportive father, including coaching in athletic programs involving his children. In a real way, his wife of 21 years, Cathy, son Ryan, and daughter Melissa have shared Jack with the Society.

Jack’s most recent efforts extend beyond the scope of SEG to encompass seismic marine exploration as a whole. Jack’s first involvement with the effect of air-gun noise on mammals dates to 1996. His perception of the potential problems brewing between conservationists protecting unrepresented mammals and cost-pressured service companies acquiring marine seismic data was accurate. Rather than allowing the problem to continue to fester, Jack took a sports metaphor to heart: “The best defense is a good offense.” He applied fundamental scientific principles and raised the issues beyond emotion and anecdote. Establishing facts, defining issues and, most importantly, working toward a practical solution led to an amicable acceptance of responsibility by the industry. While one may be quick to underestimate the skills required to affect a solution, the average scientist could not have resolved this situation as effectively. The Minerals Management Service awarded him the Corporate Leadership Award (2000) for his efforts.

Jack is first and foremost a man of his word. His uncompromising integrity, mathematical precision, and logic have been paramount to bridging the credibility gap between conservationists and industry. In the face of open hostility, his tenacity and dedication allow him to overcome obstacles and work toward resolution. His perseverance has served the Society and the industry as a whole—both are the better for his efforts. The award of Life Membership is bestowed upon a truly deserving member.