Manik Talwani

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Manik Talwani
Manik Talwani 2015 headshot.jpg
Latest company Rice University
BSc Physics
MSc Physics
PhD Geophysics
BSc university Delhi University, India
MSc university Delhi University, India
PhD university Columbia University

Manik Talwani is an Emeritus Professor at Rice university and the recipient of the 2015 SEG Maurice Ewing Medal Award.

SEG Maurice Ewing Medal Award 2015

Manik Talwani received his PhD in 1959 from Columbia University under the tutelage of Doc Ewing, who would be justifiably proud of his student. Manik has received an amazing list of awards including the James B. Macelwane Award and the Maurice Ewing award from the American Geophysical Union, the Alfred Wegener Medal from the European Union of Geoscience, the Emile Wiechert award from the German Geophysical Society, the George P. Woollard Award from the Geological Society of America, and the Krishnan Medal from the Indian Geophysical Union, among others. In addition he has been awarded fellowship in several prestigious societies including the Russian and Norwegian Academies of Science, and an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Oslo. He has served in an impressive list of professional positions including Director of the Geotechnology Research Institute of the Houston Advanced Research Center, Chief Scientist at the Gulf Research & Development Company, Director of Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, and as Schlumberger Professor at Rice University. He has published more than 150 articles on a wide array of geophysical topics and has edited 7 geophysical books. Manik has served the SEG for many years, most recently as Chair of the SEG Advanced Modeling Corporation (SEAM).

Biography Citation for the SEG Maurice Ewing Medal Award

by Satinder Chopra

Manik Talwani is one of the pioneers of modern applied geophysics and an internationally recognized geophysicist who has carried out research in seismology as well as in gravity and magnetics. His long and successful career through varied technical assignments is replete with solid research efforts, numerous publications and erudite presentations at international conventions and workshops. He is a man with a fund of talent, grit and determination. Interestingly, Manik’s enthusiasm for geophysics remains undiminished, which gives us reason to believe that there is more to come.

After obtaining a Bachelor Honors and a Masters degree in physics from Delhi University, India, Manik Talwani spent almost an year at the Norwegian Ore Prospecting Institure. That Norwegian experience, together later, with many years of research in the Norwegian Greenland Sea, enabled him to forge a strong relationship with Norway and Norwegian scientists. After his time in Norway, he came to Columbia University to do graduate studies under Maurice Ewing. He obtained a Ph.D. in geophysics in 1959. Manik had a long association with Maurice Ewing, who was not only his professor but also a co-author of a number of papers. He joined Ewing on several research expeditions at sea.

At Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Geological Observatory he held research and professorial appointments and served as director of the observatory from 1974 until 1981, when he left Lamont to join Gulf Oil, first as director of the Center for Marine Crustal Studies and later as Chief Scientist. When Gulf was taken over by Chevron in 1985, Rice University offered him the Schlumberger Chair in Advanced Studies and Research. He accepted and served simultaneously as the Director of the Geotechnology Research Institute of the Houston Advanced Research Center. He continued in the Rice position until he retired in 2006 and now serves at Rice as an emeritus and research professor. From 2004 to 2009 he took a leave of absence from Rice and served as the President and CEO of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International in Washington D.C.

In a wonderful career spanning more than 50 years, he has served on numerous national and international committees, and has authored or co-authored more than 150 peer reviewed articles and seven books. He has served the SEG directly in many ways. He has presented papers at annual meetings, chaired workshops, and organized a joint industry academia task force. He is a member of the SEG research committee and its CO2 sub-committee. He has served as a member of the board of directors of SEAM, serving in 2013 as its chairman.

Some of Manik’s colleagues and close friends have gone down memory lane and recalled his creative insights and exceptional scientific contributions to geophysics, global tectonics, deep-sea drilling program and exploration geophysics, in addition to his individualistic qualities. For example, Stephen Danbom, Adjunct Professor at Rice University, recalls a conversation with Maurice Ewing’s brother, John Ewing, who was a Woods Hole Professor at the time. According to John, Maurice described Manik as ‘’the best graduate student I ever had.”

Hans-Jürgen Götze, Director of the Institute of Geosciences, Christian – Albrechts - Universität zu Kiel, says Prof. Talwani’s scientific leadership has contributed greatly to our understanding of how oceans and continents evolve. He is known especially for his studies of the Earth’s crust and the dynamics of continental margins and ocean basins by combining multi-scale observations of Earth sciences and disciplines which crosses the fields of Geophysics - Geology - Oceanography and Geodesy.

Paul L. Stoffa, Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas at Austin, says, amongst many other contributions, Manik was the first scientist to successfully acquire marine gravity data overcoming many obstacles, was a proponent for ocean bottom seismic measurements years before digital technology would advance to the point that made these measurements possible, working with others at Lamont developed multiple seismic ship shooting methods long before the practice was adopted by industry as a routine acquisition method, and encouraged collaborations between industry and university researchers as Director of the Geotechnology Research Institute of the Houston Advanced Research Center. Albert W. Bally, Petroleum Geologist described Manik as a ‘world citizen’ for he has authored reports on diverse areas for the Baker Institute, the political think-tank at Rice, going from the hydrocarbon potential of Central Asia to Mexico’s Petroleum Industry. Manik’s lasting involvement in various geophysical/oceanographic challenges and his unquenched curiosity about addressing those challenges, prompts Bert to call Manik a modern ‘man for all seasons’.

Manik is still active in research. Presently he is busy organizing a joint Rice University- National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India proposal for an OBS experiment to explore the 85 East Ridge in the Bay of Bengal.

Manik is the recipient of many awards and distinctions that have come from Asia, Europe and North America, and are too numerous to list here. However, some are mentioned in the introductory paragraph above. For his many contributions to the field of earth sciences, and in particular to exploration geophysics, as well as the leadership that he has given to our scientific community, the SEG has bestowed its highest honor, the Maurice Ewing Medal on Manik, which is a very well-deserved award. In 1981, Manik was awarded the American Geophysical Union’s Maurice Ewing Medal and with this SEG award, Manik has become the first, very worthy, and the only recipient of two Maurice Ewing Medals. I wish him well in his future activities.


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