Mauricio Sacchi

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Mauricio Sacchi
Mauricio Sacchi 2015 headshot.png
Latest company University of Alberta
PhD Physics
PhD university UBC

Mauricio D. Sacchi was born and raised in Coronel Brandsen (Buenos Aires), Argentina. He received a diploma in geophysics from The National University of La Plata, Argentina, in 1988 and a PhD in geophysics from UBC, Canada, in 1996. He joined the Department of Physics at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada) in 1997. His research interests are in the area of signal analysis and imaging methods. He directs the Signal Analysis and Imaging Group, an industry-sponsored initiative for advanced research in signal processing and imaging. He has developed and taught short courses for the industry and for SEG, CSEG, and EAGE in seismic signal theory, transform methods for signal enhancement, seismic inversion, and multidimensional data reconstruction. With Tad Ulrych, he wrote the book Information-based processing and inversion with applications (Elsevier). Mauricio is a member of SEG, CGU, CSEG, EAGE, and IEEE. He is the recipient of the 2012 CSEG Medal, the highest award that the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists bestows. Sacchi was the Editor of Geophysics for the years 2016–2017 and for 2017–2018. He received the SEG Virgil Kauffman Award in 2019 and was an Honorary Lecturer in 2014.

The 2019 SEG Virgil Kauffman Award [1]

Mauricio D. Sacchi is recognized for his long-standing efforts regarding seismic analysis and imaging, with an emphasis on sparsity. He has engaged in developing or is directly responsible for many of the significant contributions in this field. This has had direct application and commercialization for the oil and gas industry. Several high-impact technologies have been conceived, developed, and implemented in this effort, including high-resolution radon filtering, sparse fast Fourier transforms, 5D interpolation, and the groundwork for compressive sensing. Since joining the University of Alberta in 1997, he has engaged in work on signal analysis and seismic imaging methods, directing the industry-sponsored Signal Analysis and Imaging Group. In addition to supporting, encouraging, and directing his students, he has published hundreds of peer-reviewed articles and contributions, and his work is cited more than 7000 times. This is a significant body of work culminating in the present state of sparse reconstruction for the seismic industry. He and his students also have extended these concepts into the fields of medical imaging and the denoising of teleseismic data. SEG acknowledges and thanks him for his service to the Society in many ways, including his roles as editor-in-chief of Geophysics and Honorary Lecturer.

Biography Citation for the SEG Virgil Kauffman Award

by Sven Treitel

An advantage I enjoy as a holder of old age is that I can follow the professional careers of many of my gifted younger colleagues whom I also knew well as students. I first met Mauricio Sacchi during the 1980s in Argentina's wine country while teaching a seismic signal processing short course. I was soon struck by the maturity of the questions and the comments made by a then very young Mauricio. We chatted a lot during the frequent breaks, when I also learned that Mauricio was keen to continue his studies abroad. I recommended several graduate programs to him, among them the late Tad Ulrych's group at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Tad accepted him on the spot. Years later, Tad assured me time and again that Mauricio was among the very best students it was his good fortune to have had. Even before Mauricio received his PhD, he had coauthored several key papers with Tad. In 2005, Tad and he coauthored the well-known book Information-based Inversion and Processing with Applications.

Much water has flowed under the bridge since then, and in the meantime Mauricio has become an internationally recognized geophysicist with an impressive number of major contributions to his name. Mauricio completed his undergraduate education in geophysics at the National University of La Plata, Argentina. After graduation, he served there for several years as an instructor in both the seismology and meteorology departments. From 1992 to 1996, he pursued his graduate studies at UBC. In 1997, he accepted an assistant professorship in the Department of Physics at the University of Alberta. There he soon obtained a full professorship. Over the years, he has also served as chair of the Physics Department. Mauricio's research began with minimum weighted norm interpolation, evolved into tensor rank reduction based on Hankel matrices, and eventually led to 5D tensor completion for the reconstruction of missing seismic data. Concurrently, Mauricio was directing one of the few remaining oil industry consortia primarily dedicated to signal processing and imaging. This group (the Signal Analysis and Imaging Group) has distinguished itself with its pioneering work in 5D seismic data interpolation, where it has shown the role that sparsity plays in the design of efficient higher dimensional interpolation algorithms. In turn, these developments have influenced the growing field of seismic data reconstruction and are currently finding widespread use in the oil industry. Mauricio's innovative work has been quoted extensively in the technical literature, where it has been referenced more than 7000 times.

By early 2018, Mauricio had supervised the graduate work of some 30 MS and PhD students who are either academics or employed in industry. Mauricio has received numerous invitations to deliver lectures, short courses, and seminars all over the globe, from his native Argentina to Mexico, China, Japan, and throughout parts of the European Union. He has become a truly international geophysicist, one sharing triple nationality: Argentina, Canada, and Italy.

A unique feature of Mauricio's professional career is his recognition of the importance of providing his students with an education broad and flexible enough to adapt to a world in which existing technologies evolve and become obsolete at an ever-increasing pace. Therefore, he and some of his students have attempted to apply seismic imaging algorithms to medical imaging. They have done this in collaboration with medical imaging professionals. More departments teaching exploration geophysics might well want to give serious thought to Mauricio's initiative.

During his academic career, Mauricio has received many professional honors and has actively participated in SEG affairs. He was the recipient of the 2012 Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysics (CSEG) Medal, and served as the 2015–2016 CSEG Distinguished Lecturer. In 2014, he served as the SEG Central and South America Honorary Lecturer. From 2015 to 2016, he served on the SEG Board of Directors, and from 2015 to 2017, he was the editor-in-chief of Geophysics.

We honor Mauricio with the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for his dedication to the science of geophysics, for his fundamental work with sparsity, for his dedication to his students, and above all, for his qualities as a teacher and a human being.

Biography 2015 Editor of Geophysics Nomination [2]

Mauricio D. Sacchi was born and raised in Coronel Brandsen, province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He received a diploma in geophysics from the National University of La Plata, Argentina, in 1988 and a Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of British Columbia in 1996. He joined the Department of Physics at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, in 1997 and was promoted to full professor in 2006. He has been chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Alberta since 2010.

Sacchi’s research interests are in the area of signal analysis and imaging methods. He has developed and taught short courses for industry and for CSEG, EAGE, and SEG in seismic signal theory, transform methods for signal enhancement, seismic inversion, and multidimensional data reconstruction. With Tad Ulrych, he authored the book Information-based Processing and Inversion with Applications, published by Elsevier. Sacchi is the recipient of the 2012 CSEG Medal for long-standing significant contribution to the development of exploration geophysics in Canada. He was also the 2014 SEG Central and South America Honorary Lecturer, on “Practical aspects of regularization and interpolation of 5D seismic data.”

Sacchi has served on the editorial board of Geophysics since 2006, first as an associate editor and then as an assistant editor. He coedited a special issue on seismic data regularization, published in Geophysics in 2010), and he was guest editor of the IEEE Signal Processing Magazine thematic issue on geophysical signal processing, published in February 2012.

Position statement

I am humbled by this nomination. SEG’s journal Geophys- ics has been an essential part of my academic and professional career. I have warm memories as a senior undergraduate preparing my final diploma thesis by poring over beautifully written Geophysics’ articles.

In the next two years, I will use my experience to preserve Geophysics’ reputation as the premier international journal for the science and profession of applied geophysics. I will continue to promote special issues and review articles to provide direct and timely dissemination of topics that are central to our profession and science. I will work to increase submission of articles in underrepresented areas of applied geophysics. Furthermore, I will continue to foster efforts started by my predecessors to promote open-access publishing. I will also work with Geophysics’ team of editors and editorial staff to maintain timely review cycles and a fair, high-quality review process.

2014 SEG Honorary Lecturer, Latin America

Practical aspects of regularization and interpolation of (5D) seismic data

Multidimensional reconstruction methods have become an integral component of seismic data processing workflows. Reconstruction is an important data-preconditioning module that has become a standard step before imaging and amplitude variation with azimuth studies. Reconstruction is also becoming of significant importance at the time of correcting for survey irregularities. In addition, under extraordinary conditions, reconstruction could serve to decrease acquisition costs. This talk examines current strategies and algorithms for prestack seismic data reconstruction. I will pay particular attention to techniques that are used to reconstruct 5D prestack data volumes. In other words, I will discuss the reconstruction of seismic data that depend on four spatial dimensions (for instance, offset, azimuth and inline and crossline midpoints) and time.

I will discuss methods that take advantage of sparsity in the wavenumber domain and connect them to current efforts in the area of compressive sensing. I will also discuss the importance of grid irregularity to avoid the aliasing problem and anti-alias strategies for surveys that are acquired on regular grids. The talk will also examine recent developments and applications of reduced-rank methods for simultaneous reconstruction and denoising. Examples will illustrate the impact of reconstruction on imaging and amplitude variation with azimuth studies. Finally, I will discuss limitations of current reconstruction algorithms and present new lines of study that could permit to couple reconstruction methods to optimal acquisition design.


  1. Honors and Awards, The Leading Edge Volume 38, Issue 11.
  2. NOMINATIONS FOR 2015–2016 BOARD OF DIRECTORS The Leading Edge Jul 2015, Vol. 34, No. 7, pp. 846-852 Online Publication Date: July 2015

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Mauricio Sacchi
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