Kurt J. Marfurt joined The University of Oklahoma in 2007 where he serves as the Frank and Henrietta Schultz Professor of Geophysics within the ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics. Marfurt’s primary research interest is in the development and calibration of new seismic attributes to aid in seismic processing, seismic interpretation, and reservoir characterization. Recent work has focused on applying coherence, spectral decomposition, structure-oriented filtering, and volumetric curvature to mapping fractures and karst with a particular focus on resource plays. Marfurt earned a Ph.D. in applied geophysics at Columbia University’s Henry Krumb School of Mines in New York in 1978 where he also taught as an Assistant Professor for four years. He worked 18 years in a wide range of research projects at Amoco’s Tulsa Research Center after which he joined the University of Houston for 8 years as a Professor of Geophysics and the Director of the Allied Geophysics Lab. He has received the SEG best paper (for coherence), SEG best presentation (for seismic modeling), as a coauthor with Satinder Chopra best SEG poster (one on curvature, one on principal component analysis) and best AAPG technical presentation, and as a coauthor with Roderick Perez Altimar, SEG/AAPG Interpretation best paper (on brittleness) awards. Marfurt also served as the EAGE/SEG Distinguished Short Course Instructor for 2006 (on seismic attributes). In addition to teaching and research duties at OU, Marfurt leads short courses on attributes for the SEG and AAPG. From 1984–2013, he served as either an associate or assistant editor for Geophysics. In 2013 he joined the editorial board of the SEG/AAPG journal Interpretation where he served as the Editor-in-Chief for 2016–2018. He served as Deputy Editor-in-Chief for 2019–2021 for Interpretation and as an SEG Director-at-Large.
SEG Maurice Ewing Medal 2023
Kurt J. Marfurt is the recipient of SEG’s highest honor, the Maurice Ewing Medal, awarded to a person who is deserving of special recognition for making major contributions to the advancement of the science and profession of exploration geophysics. Marfurt is a remarkably productive geophysicist, author, and educator with a distinguished career in academia and the oil and gas industry. After completing his PhD in applied geophysics at Columbia University in 1978 and teaching there, he joined the Amoco Research Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a research geophysicist. During his tenure at Amoco, Marfurt made significant contributions to several processes and patents, in particular the development of seismic attributes. In 1999, Marfurt joined the faculty at the University of Houston where he served as director of the Allied Geophysical Laboratories. He continued to conduct research on seismic imaging and interpretation as well as data simulation, notably generating well-used synthetic data sets for the Marmousi model. In 2007, Marfurt joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma where he served as the Shultz Professor of Geophysics and is now professor emeritus. He has been involved with SEG as a short course instructor, associate editor of GEOPHYSICS, editor-in-chief of Interpretation, director at large on the SEG Board of Directors, and coauthor of more than 800 papers and abstracts.
Biography Citation for SEG Maurice Ewing Medal
It is a sincere pleasure to write this citation for a distinguished geophysicist who we are proud to call our friend and who has been honored very appropriately.
Kurt earned a PhD in applied geophysics at Columbia University’s Henry Krumb School of Mines in New York in 1978, where he also taught as an assistant professor for four years. In 1981, he bravely crossed the Hudson River and headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to join the Amoco Research Center, where he worked on a wide range of research projects for 18 years. The merger of Amoco and BP in 1999 made Kurt opt to go back to academia. He joined the University of Houston as a professor of geophysics and director of the Allied Geophysical Laboratories, one of the largest geoscience departments in North America. He worked there for eight years. Next, around 2007, as the industry’s landscape changed toward resource plays, Kurt moved north to join the University of Oklahoma (OU), where he served for 15 years as the Frank and Henrietta Schultz Professor of Geophysics within the ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics. He now continues interacting with students as an emeritus professor.
It is quite uncommon to see the amount of work done by any individual like Kurt. In 2007, he founded a vibrant and productive research consortium called Attribute-Assisted Seismic Processing and Interpretation at OU. Kurt’s primary research interest has been the development and calibration of new seismic attributes to aid in seismic processing, seismic interpretation, and reservoir characterization. This work has focused on applying coherence, spectral decomposition, structure-oriented filtering, and volumetric curvature to map fractures and karst with a focus on resource plays. More recently, algorithm development for attributes and machine learning applications has been for seismic data conditioning; calibration of the results using geologic models, well logs, and outcrop analogues; and calibration using engineering data including microseismic events and production.
We have witnessed firsthand Kurt’s enthusiasm in making sure each of his students receives proper training in his department. He has nurtured many young geophysicists and has been able to pursue his research ideas successfully with them. In late 2018, Kurt decided to conclude his teaching at OU and focus full time on research. Three years later, Kurt gradually eased out of his position for retirement.
Kurt has been exemplary in giving back to his profession and society as a whole. He is the only geophysicist who came back as SEG’s Distinguished Instructor Short Course instructor twice. He was an associate or assistant editor for GEOPHYSICS from 1984 to 2012, after which he joined the Interpretation Editorial Board, where he served as editor-in-chief and deputy editor-in-chief from 2016 to 2021. He received SEG’s Honorary Membership in 2008 and the AAPG Robert R. Berg Outstanding Research Award in 2019.
Kurt’s contagious sense of delightful humor, motivating enthusiasm for geoscience and intelligent opinions, his effort to seek and respect opinions of others, delegation of authority and responsibility, and casual chats spiced with wit are traits that endear him to his students and especially the people who have worked with him.
His technical pursuits have been ably supported by his wonderful wife, Stephanie, and at this stage in their lives, they like to spend time with their two daughters, Jessica and Rebecca, and their families at their ranch outside of Norman.
We both wholeheartedly endorse the conferral of SEG’s highest honor to Kurt, a fitting tribute for all of his many and diverse accomplishments.
Seismic Attributes as the Framework for Data Integration throughout the Oilfield Life Cycle
The lecture will focus on fundamental assumptions, algorithm application, and analysis of the results. Topics to be covered includeː
- Seismic attributes and what they measure
- Post-migration data conditioning and image enhancement
- The exploration stage of the oil field life cycle
- The development stage of the oil field life cycle
- The mature stage of the oil field life cycle
- The rebirth stage of the oil field life cycle
- Data integration and a profile of the future interpreter
After completing this short course, the participant should be able toː
- use attributes to quantify geometric, dynamic, kinematic, statistical, and geomechanical properties of the 3D seismic data volume,
- use 3D visualization and multiattribute crossplots to interactively enhance and isolate geologic features that otherwise might be overlooked,
- use concepts of geomorphology, diagenesis, and tectonic deformation to integrate seismic and well-log data within an appropriate geologic framework,
- use classical statistics and modern machine learning to establish correlations between 3D seismic data, rock properties, and engineering data that then can be employed to predict future rates of penetration, well-completion success, and well-fluid production, and
- use seismic attributes computed from 3D seismic data as the framework for data integration throughout the lifespan of the oil field.
The accompanying textbook is available for purchase.
SEG Honorary Membership 2012 
Kurt Marfurt is recognized for significant advances in seismic interpretation, as reflected by 36 Geophysics papers (ten as first author) and 120 Annual Meeting presentations (nine as first author), in addition to his outstandingly relevant DISC and associated textbook, and his co-authorship of SEG’s foundational book on seismic attributes. Marfurt’s creative mind, leveraged through the energies of a legion of students, has gone a long way toward answering the question,“Well, now that we have 3D data, what do we do with it?” While many almost instinctively associate Kurt’s name with seismic attributes, the full-waveform inversion community recognizes Marfurt’s 1984 paper, showing the equivalence of wave-equation, frequency-domain solutions with time domain solutions, as the foundation for their speedier frequency-domain inversion algorithms. The following key words from Marfurt’s publications support the broad reach of that curiosity: texture, S-wave interpretation, coherence, curvature, sea-level curves, basement from aeromag, velocity anisotropy, time lapse, neural net inversion, coal-bed methane, azimuthal impedance, microseismic fracture, wavelet transform, spectral decomposition, spectral analysis, shallow volcanic, igneous intrusions, fracture lineaments, footprint removal, seismic modeling, karst delineation, phase unwrapping, and termite mounds!
Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership
Kurt Marfurt has contributed generously to applied geophysics through his research work. His career is characterized by the development and deployment of data-driven algorithmic solutions to exploration problems ranging from seismic signal analysis, through seismic modeling and migration, to seismic attributes and interpretation. His day-to-day achievements over the last 35 years have advanced the state-of-the-art and have brought credit to our profession.
Kurt joined Amoco at Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981 and worked there for 18 enjoyable and productive years. The Amoco research facility was an excellent environment for research that helped Kurt implement new technology ideas on the available 3D seismic data and the latest computer hardware.
Amongst the many other important research contributions, Kurt’s work on seismic coherence and spectral decomposition is the most distinguished. After the introduction of coherence attribute in 1995 by Bahorich and Farmer, Kurt and his team followed this original cross-correlation algorithm for coherence computation and developed the semblance and eigen-decomposition algorithms, which provided superior clarity and lateral resolution. This work fetched him three of the five patents that he earned through Amoco.
After the Amoco research facility closed in 1999, Kurt joined the University of Houston, as Director of the Center for Applied Geosciences and Energy. Here, with the industry-sup ported consortium, he developed algorithms and workflows knowledge that he possesses and am continually inspired by the amount of technical work he gets accomplished. Kurt’s excellent communication skills, his lucid style, and the passion with which he presents his work have also seen him being invited for several keynote presentations.
Kurt’s contagious sense of humor, his motivating enthusiasm, his seeking and respecting the opinions of others, and also delegating authority and responsibility are some characteristic traits that endear him to his students and especially the people who have worked with him. All these years, Kurt may have chewed geophysics every day, but he definitely has had his darling wife of over 35 years, Stephanie Marfurt, in his heart. Stephanie has been a continuous support for Kurt as his good and understanding partner.
He is a richly deserving recipient of Honorary Membership. In 2007, Kurt joined The University of Oklahoma where he is diversifying his research efforts into other areas, notably shale gas, testimony that his intellectual curiosity is always tuned to the new and challenging. Kurt has published and presented several dozen papers at various conventions/workshops and has received many awards, including the SEG outstanding presentation award in 1987, the award for the SEG Best Paper in Geophysics in 1998, and with co-authors the SEG best poster presentation award in 2008, SEG honorable mention for three posters in 2009, and the AAPG best paper award in 2010. He has furthered the advancement of our profession through his 18 years as an Assistant/Associate Editor for Geophysics, a position in which he continues to serve. He has twice been a TLE guest editor, co-editor of two books and co-author of two books, all published by SEG.
Kurt has been conducting the SEG short course on 3D seismic attributes since 2002; it is one of the most popular SEG courses in recent years. I had the good fortune of working with Kurt in putting together the book to go with his 2006 SEG DISC as well as the complete book on 3D seismic attributes published by SEG in 2007. I was impressed with the knowledge that he possesses and am continually inspired by the amount of technical work he gets accomplished. Kurt’s excellent communication skills, his lucid style, and the passion with which he presents his work have also seen him being invited for several keynote presentations.
Kurt’s contagious sense of humor, his motivating enthusiasm, his seeking and respecting the opinions of others, and also delegating authority and responsibility are some characteristic traits that endear him to his students and especially the people who have worked with him.
All these years, Kurt may have chewed geophysics every day, but he definitely has had his darling wife of over 35 years, Stephanie Marfurt, in his heart. Stephanie has been a continuous support for Kurt as his good and understanding partner. He is a richly deserving recipient of Honorary Membership.
2006 SEG/EAGE Distinguished Instructor Short Course
Seismic Attribute Mapping of Structure and Stratigraphy
Seismic data are incredibly rich in information, including amplitude, frequency, and the configuration or morphology of reflection events. Seismic attributes, including volumetric estimates of coherence, dip/azimuth, curvature, amplitude texture, and spectral decomposition, can greatly accelerate the interpretation of newly acquired 3D surveys as well as provide new insight into old 3-D surveys. Successful use of seismic attributes requires both an understanding of seismic data quality and of sedimentary and tectonic processes. Participants in this one-day course will gain an understanding of the physical basis, geologic expression, and petrophysical calibration of seismic attributes.
Course Goals The course will address the following questions:
- How can we use attributes to accelerate the interpretation of very large data volumes?
- What is the impact of seismic acquisition and processing on attribute images? Can we use attributes to help choose processing parameters?
- What is the physical basis for modern volumetric attributes, including coherence, dip/azimuth, curvature, amplitude gradients, textures, and spectral decomposition?
- How do we display these attributes to provide the most information and to communicate important concepts to nontechnical members of our team?
- What is the attribute expression of clastic versus carbonate depositional environments? Of extensional versus compressional deformation?
- How can we use geometric attributes and spectral decomposition to more accurately define the reservoir model?
- Participants will be able to take home and use the answers and methods discussed in this course.
The accompanying textbook is available for purchase.
A recording (online streaming version) of this course also is available.
SEG Best Paper in Geophysics 1998
Kurt J. Marfurt, Steven L. Farmer, Rodney Lynn Kirlin, and Michael S. Bahorich received the 1998 SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award for their paper 3-D seismic attributes using a semblance-based coherency algorithm.
- Society of Exploration Geophysicists International Exposition and Eighty-Second Annual Meeting Honors & Awards Program 4:30 p.m., Sunday 4 November 2012 Mandalay Bay Convention Center Las Vegas, Nevada USA
- Marfurt, K. J., et. al. (1998), 3-D seismic attributes using a semblance-based coherency algorithm Geophysics, 63(4):1150.