Larry Lines

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Larry Lines
Larry Lines headshot.jpeg
Latest company University of Calgary
Membership Honorary Member
BSc Geophysics
MSc Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
BSc university University of Alberta
MSc university University of Alberta
PhD university University of British Columbia

Laurence "Larry" Richard Lines (7 March 1949–25 November 2019) was a Canadian geophysicist and the 2008-2009 SEG President.

Memorial 2020 [1]


Larry Lines' voicemail greeting, “Hello, hello, hello,” was a cheerful arpeggio that conveyed his welcoming spirit and generous enthusiasm. His characteristic handshake reinforced his love of people and his wonderful ability to engage. Larry's gentle but formidable dedication to his family, friends, and colleagues was deeply enriching. His contributions to the science of geophysics and service to our profession are legion and profoundly inspirational. Larry served as editor of Geophysics in 1997–1999, coeditor of the Canadian Journal of Exploration Geophysics, and published widely on key topics in geophysics, including tomography, inversion, migration, and interpretation. He was president of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) in 2008–2009. In recognition of his extraordinary services, he received many awards and honors, including SEG Honorary Membership in 2000 and the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG) Medal in 2017. Larry passed away on 25 November 2019 after a short but valiant battle with cancer. He made many memories for us while helping to build numerous futures.

The early years

Larry was born on 7 March 1949 in Athabasca, Alberta, Canada, to Laurence and Agnes (Richards) Lines. After 18 years growing up on the family farm, Larry went on to earn degrees from the University of Alberta (UofA) (BS 1971, MS 1973) and the University of British Columbia (UBC) (PhD 1976).

A Memory by Bill Cumming

by William (Bill) Cumming

Larry Lines became my first geophysics colleague when we shared a bench desk at UBC in 1974–1976. His thesis was more entertaining than mine, and he was generous in acknowledging any contribution, however incidental. In response to the many tributes that he received over the decades for his contributions to research, education, and the geophysical profession, Larry would attribute his success to his roots on an Athabasca farm and the support of his family and colleagues. His style of leadership was subtle, marked by gentle manners, active kindness, and good humor in service of a resolute dedication to principle.

Living on Tulsa time

After graduate school, Larry began his career in exploration geophysics. He married Shirley Pritchard in Calgary in 1978, and they moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, where Larry and Shirley raised two children, Wendy and Andrew.

A Memory by Sven Treitel

by Sven Treitel

Larry actually visited Amoco's Tulsa center several years before he joined us. The late Tad Ulrych at UBC was his PhD advisor; he sent Larry to Tulsa to obtain data for his thesis. We were all so impressed with Larry's knowledge of exploration seismology that we persuaded our Calgary office to offer him a job, with the option of a later transfer to Tulsa. At Amoco, Larry rapidly made a name for himself as one of our most innovative and prolific research scientists, quickly managing to become widely known in industry and academe through his many publications, some of which I was privileged to coauthor with him. This collaboration lasted for some two decades. During this time, Larry and I established the closest of friendships, one that had endured and grown until his untimely passing. Larry had a sparkling personality. He was such a gentle soul who always saw the good in people. He leaves a gaping void in all who were privileged to know and work with him.

A Memory by Sam Gray

by Sam Gray

I met Larry when I interviewed for a job at Amoco's research lab. I was immediately struck by how gracious he seemed, and I knew I wanted to work there. I got the job, fortunately in the same group as Larry, and my first impression was reinforced every day. I also learned quickly how knowledgeable and brilliant he was, and I got to witness firsthand some of the earliest applications of inverse theory in geophysics. Only gradually did I learn about Larry's sense of humor — gentle, in keeping with his personality, but always to the point. Luckily, Larry and I kept up during his second career in academia. The mutual dedication between Larry and his students was clear, and it inspired all.

File:Larry Lines barbecue c2019.png
"Larry Lines: A cheerful glow in the midst of the geophysics community …"
"Wearing a cap bearing the insignia of his beloved New York Yankees, Larry pitches in the UofC departmental softball game."
"Larry with one of his Malamutes as a pup."
"UofC and CREWES faculty — Rob Stewart, Don Lawton, Larry Lines, and Gary Margrave."
"Larry Lines and Rachel Newrick during the CSEG 2017 Symposium."

Back in Canada

In 1993, Larry's work shifted from industry to academia, and he moved from Amoco's Research Center to Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's as a Chair in Applied Seismology. Returning to Canada also meant a cooler climate, perfect for enjoying daily walks with a beloved Alaskan Malamute. Each of Larry's Malamutes — Aurora, then Denali, then Pearl — were his constant companions, and the pair walking together were a comforting fixture in each of Larry's home communities. Larry had a chance to return to his native Alberta and University of Calgary (UofC) from Newfoundland. He left the decision up to Shirley. She said that they were going!

Memories by Don Lawton and Bernhard Mayer

by Don Lawton and Bernhard Mayer

With his return to Alberta in 1997, Larry's career continued to flourish as a professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at UofC. He successfully led numerous research grants and consortia, educated hundreds of students, and brought deep integrity and enjoyment to his academic and professional communities. He had an exceptional blend of skills and values: his love and knowledge of science, his insatiable curiosity and enjoyment of learning, his unmatched way of connecting with people from all walks of life, and his uncanny ability to share a song in his soothing bass voice (in choir or in the classroom). Throughout his career, he published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal papers and hundreds of refereed conference contributions that are frequently cited in the academic community and widely utilized by industry practitioners. From 1997 to 2002, Larry held the CSEG Chair in Exploration Geophysics at UofC. Furthermore, he served as director of the Consortium for Heavy Oil Research by University Scientists, was associate director of the Consortium for Research in Elastic Wave Exploration Seismology (CREWES) and the Fold-Fault Research Project, and cogenerated several million dollars in research funds. From 2002 to 2007, Larry was head of the Department of Geology and Geophysics. During his tenure at UofC, he instructed six different undergraduate courses in two departments and taught four graduate courses. He supervised or cosupervised a highly impressive number of 73 graduate students. His numerous conference presentations and publications ensured that new academic knowledge was rapidly taken up in practical applications in industry. Larry was a tremendous academic citizen, a great human being and friend, and a truly kind man. We cannot remember a single occasion when, upon being asked to take on a duty or task, Larry would not have said with a happy face “Yes of course, I'd be glad to!” A graduate memorial scholarship is being established in Larry's honor at UofC. More information can be found at

A Memory by Gary Margrave

by Gary Margrave

I met Larry when he joined the faculty at UofC, and right away, I recognized a kindred spirit. Immensely knowledgeable and incredibly congenial, Larry was the perfect colleague and friend. I've never known anyone else with such a profound combination of wisdom, humility, and friendliness. We had many common interests in geophysics, and I often benefited from his insight, which was always offered in a way that both complimented and, if need be, gently corrected. Larry was always a role model for gracious professional conduct. We are nearly the same age, and while I retired several years before Larry, I was very much looking forward to a continued “senior” collaboration following his retirement this past September. Now sadly, without Larry, I can hear him saying “The future ain't what it used to be.”

A Memory by Brian Russell

by Brian Russell

I met Larry in 1976 in Calgary at the start of our careers with Amoco and Chevron. Over the course of our long friendship we spent a lot of time on the same committees, first the TLE Editorial Board and then the SEG Executive Committee, and in Larry I observed the most hard-working (and soft-hearted) individual I have ever known. In 2002, I had the good fortune to go back to UofC as Larry's “mature” graduate student. The next four years were the most stimulating of my life, as Larry expertly guided me to my PhD. Since we lived very close to each other in Calgary, my favorite memories are our weekend walks with his beloved Malamutes at the park between our houses. I will miss Larry very much.

A Memory by Mauricio Sacchi

by Mauricio Sacchi

I met Larry in 1997 when I moved to Alberta, but I knew about his work because he was one of my scientific heroes when I was an undergraduate working on wavelet estimation and deconvolution. Larry's contributions to geophysics are impressive; he has worked on deconvolution, tomographic inversion, reverse time migration, amplitude variation with offset inversion, heavy-oil production, reservoir geophysics, etc. Larry's modesty and friendly nature have had a significant imprint on many of us and, undoubtedly, he will be missed.

A Memory Kris Innanen

by Kris Innanen

I met Larry in 1998, when he visited UBC near the start of my degree. My impression then was of a thoughtful man who transmitted scientific ideas so gently that it could be days before you realized you had learned something. This hasn't really changed much in the intervening years, especially the last 10 in which I worked closely with him at UofC. In trying to say a brief word about what was essential about Larry, I thought of his questioning of students during their (rather stressful) oral exams — asking deep questions, and then struggling to be tough in getting the answers against his natural tendency to help the student through. He would lose that struggle pretty often. We would rib him for it, and he would tell us he'd be tougher next time. He never was. But, that was the man — committed to his science but with a prevailing instinct for human kindness. I will miss that, and him, greatly.

A Memory by Satinder Chopra

by Satinder Chopra

Larry was a man of many individual traits. I first met him when I started volunteering for the CSEG Recorder in September 2000 and later got to know him more when I interviewed him. My next significant collaboration with him was when we compiled the contributed papers for a heavy oils workshop into a book published by SEG in 2010. This led us again to serve together as coeditors for the Canadian Journal of Exploration Geophysics. I always found Larry a humble human being, approachable, friendly, always kind and smiling, generous with his time and effort, and above all an engaging person. We will treasure Larry's wonderful memories forever.

A Memory by Daniel Trad

by Daniel Trad

Larry was shining sunlight on a cloudy day. He was always friendly and open to help with his generosity. His contributions to geophysics were abundant, but his amazing gentleness was even bigger. He would have such a warm presence that we all felt about him like family. He contributed to CREWES over the years in many ways, but probably the part we will remember the most was his friendship and warm mentorship.

A Memory by Doug Schmitt

by Doug Schmitt

Larry would always joke to me about our reversing latitudes from our Albertan origins (his in the north and mine in the deep south) to the southerly UofC and the northerly UofA. Despite this geographical complication, we came to work together on issues related to heavy-oil exploration and characterization. A particular high point of this was our joint organization of what may have been the best-attended SEG Development and Production Forum on topics related to the geophysics of heavy oils, bitumen-related topics, along with a field trip to the oil sands at Fort McMurray in 2007. This led to the popular SEG volume Heavy Oils: Reservoir Characterization and Production Monitoring.

A Memory by Phil Bording

by Phil Bording

Larry's motto was always upbeat and positive — “Let's write a paper” and on occasion “let's write a book,” and so many of his collaborators and I did. We used the Treitel motto of using known models to generate data, and if the results were good, then try real seismic data. Not long ago, Larry started rewriting our book on waves and called me last summer with a great deal of pride. He had finished 17 chapters, and now it was my turn to do editing and writing. I will finish the new book slowly but surely over the next year or so. Many a day and evening were spent with Dr. Lines and his family. He had an amazing memory and could tell you who drove in the winning run to win the World Series or the winning goal in a Stanley Cup hockey game for any year of your choice. I will miss him.

A Memory Rob Stewart

by Rob Stewart

Larry was an excellent scientist, but also a character. He was adept at not just seismic analysis, but song and skits. At one department event, he had several of us dress as The Spice Girls and perform the song, “Wannabee.” In another musical event, Larry organized the “CREWES Brothers” in a takeoff on the Blues Brothers singing, “Rollin', rollin', rolling” with words he adapted for geoscience. While he had numerous pastimes (his encyclopedic knowledge and love of baseball were legendary), Larry's technical writing and thinking were always impeccable. We've used his and Dr. Rachel Newrick's classic book, Fundamentals of Geophysical Interpretation, extensively in courses. His paper on least-squares inversion has more than 800 citations alone. It was always wonderful to work with Larry on geophysical topics but also in writing about the university-industry interaction, how to effectively communicate geophysics, and in composing tributes to other geophysicists. Larry could turn our thinking upside down with “cooperative inversion” as well as correct our “frowns into smiles.”

A Memory Rachel Newrick

by Rachel Newrick

A cheerful glow in the midst of the geophysics community went out when Larry passed away. At conferences, we will miss the moment when Larry catches our eye and waves in recognition. His animated interest in our latest work will no longer be part of the experience at technical meetings. Dog photos will no longer appear randomly in seismic presentations, yet Larry lives on within all of us.

The day after Larry's passing, 18 students in London, England, were interpreting a seismic line from our textbook, and I had yet another reason to reflect on how immense his influence was and how in some way he helped all of us grow.

Larry is survived by his loving wife, Shirley; children, Wendy (Craig) Benoit and Andrew (Sarah) Lines both of Calgary; and grandchildren, Ruby and Alice of Calgary. Larry is also survived by his four brothers, Gordon (Dolores), Robert (Mon), Ron (Lorraine), and Darren (Wanida); as well as numerous other relatives and friends.

With these recollections and tributes, we commemorate our good friend Larry Lines. We honor his fine life, well lived. He enriched us and our science, and we will long remember and treasure him.

Biography 2009


Larry Lines received B.Sc. and M.Sc. geophysics degrees from the University of Alberta (1971, 1973) and a Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of British Columbia (1976).


His industrial career included 17 years with Amoco in Calgary and Tulsa (1976-1993). Following a career in industry, Dr. Lines held the NSERC/Petro-Canada Chair in Applied Seismology at Memorial University of Newfoundland (1993-1997) and the Chair in Exploration Geophysics at the University of Calgary (1997-2002). From 2002-2007, he served as the Head, Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Calgary.

In professional service, Larry was the President of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) in 2008-2009. Previous to that, he served the SEG as Geophysics Editor (1977-99), Distinguished Lecturer, Geophysics Associate Editor, Translations Editor, Publications Chairman, and as a member of The Leading Edge Editorial Board. He has served as CJEG Editor twice. Larry and co-authors have won the SEG's Best Paper in Geophysics Award twice (1988, 1995) and have twice won Honorable Mention for Best Paper (1986,1998).

Honors and Affiliations

Larry is an Honorary Member of SEG, CSEG, and the Geophysical Society of Tulsa. Additionally, he is a member of APEGGA, CGU, EAGE, and AAPG. Larry is married with two children, and enjoys hobbies of choir, softball, and hiking with his Alaskan malamute.

SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award 1995

Larry R. Lines, Henry Tan, Sven Treitel, John Beck, Richard L. Chambers, John Eager, Charles Savage, John Queen, William D. Rizer, Paul L. Buller, V. Dale Cox, John B. Sinton, James H. Ballard, George F. Kokkoros, Antoine Track, Philippe Guerendel, Jerry Harris, Spyros K. Lazaratos, and Mark A. Van Schaack received the 1995 SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award for their paper Integrated reservoir characterization: Beyond tomography.[2]

Honorable Mention (Geophysics) 1998

Jinming Zhu, Larry R. Lines, and Samuel H. Gray received 1998 Honorable Mention (Geophysics) for their paper Smiles and frowns in migration velocity analysis.[3]

SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award 1988

Larry R. Lines, A. K. Schultz, and Sven Treitel received the 1988 SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award for their paper Cooperative inversion of geophysical data.[4]


  1. Memorial, The Leading EdgeVolume 39, Issue 4, p.288-291
  2. Lines, L. et. al. (1995), Integrated reservoir characterization: Beyond tomography,
  3. Zhu, J., L. R. Lines, and S. H. Gray (1998) Smiles and frowns in migration velocity analysis, GEOPHYSICS 63(4):1200.
  4. Lines, L.R., A.K. Schultz, and S. Treitel (1988), Cooperative inversion of geophysical data, Geophysics 53(1):8.

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