Marcel Schlumberger

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Marcel Schlumberger
Marcel Schlumberger headshot.png
Latest company Schlumberger Well Surveying Corporation

Memorial [1]

by Eugene G. Leonardon

Marcel Schlumberger, 69, Director of Schlumberger Well Surveying Corporation, Houston, and President of the Societe de Prospection Electrique and of Compagnie Generale de Geophysique, Paris, France, died with a few minutes of a heart attack at the Val Richer, a family estate in Normandy, France on August 20, 1953. His death came as a great shock to his family, his friends, and his business associates; his health was excellent, and there was every reason to expect that he would continue for many years the active, leading, and inquiring role which he played in the Schlumberger organization.

Marcel Schlumberger. respectfully called Mr. Marcel by all his associates and co-workers, was born in Gruebwiller, Alsace, on June 21, 1884. His native province was then under German domination, and he had to make a choice early in life: either to stay near his family home, serve in the Prussion Army, and become a German subject; or to leave Alsace forever in order to remain a Frenchman. This, like his older brothers, he chose to do.

He received all his education in Paris, graduating as Civil Engineer from the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in 1907. He was endowed with remarkable inventive genius, and possessed that resourcefulness, perseverance, and imagination which make the true inventor. Soon after graduating from Ecole Centrale, he held the position of research engineer or consultant in different companies and industrial organizations, among them Decauville, Carbonnage d'Heraclee, Mines de Bor, Mines d'Ouasta et Mesloula. When World War I came in 1914, he enlisted as a private. Soon he passed examinations to become an officer, and was placed in command of a mobile hospital unit, and finished the war as a research officer in the technical end of the Tank Corps. For his fine services, he was awarded the Legion of Honor.

After World War I, he became associated with his elder brother Conrad, in developing the new science of electrical prospecting which was then in its theoretical and embryonic stage. For many years the two brothers experienced the hardships that are the lot of precursors. I was next to impossible to sell the French mining industry a process that seemed very controversial to many. However, success slowly began to crown their efforts, particularly when, after 1927, it became clear that one of their inventions, electrical logging, was a powerful tool for the elucidation of problems of petroleum exploration and production.

Already at the death of Conrad Schlumberger in 1936, the reputation of the Schlumberger techniques was established in every oil field of the world. Five years later, in 1941, the A.I.M.E. awarded the Schlumberger brothers (Conrad posthumously) the Anthony F. Lucas Gold Medal for distinguished achievement in the technique of finding and producing petroleum. This high honor was cherished by Marcel Schlumberger for the rest of his life.

Marcel Schlumber was a member of The American Association of Petroleum Geologists, of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, of the American Geophysical Union, as well as numerous French and European scientific associations.

He is survived by his wife, and three children: Pierre Schlumberger, president of Schlumberger Well Surveying Corporation, Mrs. Rene Seydoux, and Mrs. Paul Primat. He will be keenly missed among his many friend for his kindness, extraordinary erudition, and sound judgement. His associates and co-workers will long remember him as the outstanding leader he was: a resourceful and genial hard worker, reluctant to relax as long as a task was unfinished.

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  1. Geophysics 1954 v.XIX n.1 p.175-176.