Klaus Helbig

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Klaus Helbig
Klaus Helbig headshot.jpg
Membership Honorary


Klaus Helbig is known for his pioneering work in seismic anisotropy.


Biography Citation for Honorary Membership

Contributed by Theodor C. Krey



When I learned that Klaus Helbig had been selected for Honorary Membership I was highly satisfied. Klaus Helbig fulfills to an excellent degree the qualifications which according to the traditions of SEG, are required for the bestowal of this high award. He has made distinguished contributions to exploration geophysics, especially with his papers on anisotropy, and he has essentially furthered the advancement of the profession of exploration geophysics by more than a dozen years through his activity as Editor of Geophysical Prospecting.

Klaus Helbig studied astronomy and physics at the University of Goettingen, Germany, in the first years after World War II. He graduated cum laude as "Diplomphysiker in 1952. Then he joined Seismos GmbH, Hannover, Germany. In this contracting company, with its long tradition, he became fond of applied geophysics which has since always kept his brain busy. He was engaged in instrument design and maintenance and was a party chief or assistant party chief in France, Germany, and Italy. These geophysical parties did not only serve the discovery of hydrocarbons but also the mining industry. In Egypt he even participated in the geophysical investigation of the modern Aswan dam site. We had numerous discussions in those years, and I was nearly always confronted with new ideas or aspects whenever I asked for his opinion on my problems or my proposals of solution.

One of those problems was anisotropy, especially transverse isotropy. His occupation with this topic resulted in numerous papers and publications. They include the thesis for his promotion to Dr.rer.nat. in 1955 at the University of Goettingen, and his habilitation paper (venia legendi in geophysics) in 1964, as well as quite recent papers. Part of these papers contributed essentially to the improvement of the interpretation of refraction seismics.

In 1958 Klaus Helbig decided to return to academic life. He was scientific assistant in Munich until 1964 where he obtained the venia legendi in geophysics in July 1964. Additionally he spent part of his time as an UNESCO expert at the University of the Punjab in Lahore, West Pakistan. From July 1964 to August 1965 he was associate professor for exploration geophysics at St. Louis University.

Then he returned to industry, i.e. to Texaco. This company entrusted him with leading research positions for nearly 12 years, first in Bellaire, and then in Belgium and Germany. During all this research work for the industry, Klaus Helbig did not forget his preference for academic activity. Parallel to his main job, he taught at the universities of Ghent, Belgium, and Braunschweig and Clausthal, Germany.

Since leaving Texaco in March 1977, Klaus Helbig has been Ordinary Professor of Exploration Geophysics at the Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands, and at the same time Extraordinary Professor for Exploration Geophysics at the University of Amsterdam.

These positions are currently completed by temporary activities as lecturer or even distinguished lecturer in various parts of the world and by his cooperation in various research projects.

Klaus Helbig is a member of many scientific societies, among them SEG, EAEG and The New York Academy of Sciences, and he has often belonged to the councils and special committees of several of them, where he has excelled in stimulating proposals.

His main contribution to the community of geophysical scientific societies has certainly been his 13 years of activity as editor of Geophysical Prospecting. Certainly Klaus Helbig has essentially contributed to making Geophysical Prospecting an outstanding complement to Geophysics, especially since he has also been chairman of the Committee on Publications.

Helbig's reputation as an editor can be recognized by the fact that he was president of EDITERRA (European Association of Earth Science Editors) from 1975 to 1978 and past president from 1978 to 1982. His diligence is revealed by the fact that quite recently he reviewed his 210th paper.

Klaus Helbig was also coeditor of two geophysical books in the German language, and he translated one book from English to German. Moreover, he is editor of PRAKLA-SEISMOS Digest.

Helbig's editorial activity has certainly been favoured by his sound knowledge of many languages. They include Dutch, English, French, German, and Italian, and even some Russian and Hebrew.

The personage of Helbig was acknowledged by bestowing on him the University Medal of the Rijksuniversiteit Ghent, 1972 and selecting him for membership in the Dutch Committee for World Petroleum Congresses in 1979.

In spite of his diversified professional activities, Klaus Helbig is not void of other fields of interest. One of them is baroque and prebaroque music with corresponding woodwind instruments, and he likes to play those instruments with his family and friends.

Considering the merits of our new Honorary Member, which I tried to outline in the preceding lines, and considering his age of only mid-fifty, we combine the bestowal of the award with our wishes for successful years to come for the pleasure of Klaus Helbig and the progress of our science.

    Theodor C. Krey