Michael Bahorich

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Michael Bahorich
Michael S. Bahorich headshot.jpg
BSc university University of Missouri
PhD university Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Mike Bahorich, a previous recipient of the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal, has made significant contributions by serving as SEG President and contributing to the globalization of the Society. His active participation on various industry-related panels and Web casts and his publications have helped the Society and the geophysics discipline earn its deserved high level of respect within the petroleum industry. Bahorich also has made significant technical contributions, including his role in the development and practical applications of coherency technology.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership 2010

Contributed by Walt Lynn

Given his easy and unassuming manner, it would be hard to believe the many accomplishments and contributions that Mike Bahorich has made to the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. Yet, Mike is very deserving of SEG’s highest membership award and it is my pleasure and honor to write this citation on his behalf.

If not already aware, the industry certainly became aware of Mike’s technical talents in 1998 when he was awarded the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal for the groundbreaking work on what is now known as the coherence cube. Published in 1995 and coauthored with Steve Farmer, this paper on the coherence cube is the most referenced article in The Leading Edge since its inception (link to article). In addition to the coherence cube, Mike holds patents on interval attribute mapping and six other topics. Today, Mike continues to contribute to the advancement of geophysical technology as Executive Vice-President and Technology Officer at Apache Corporation.

After spending his younger years in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, Mike began his college education as an accounting major at the University of Missouri. Like so many people in our industry, he took a liking to the Earth sciences and physics and switched majors to geology during his sophomore year. After completing his B.S. in geology, he went on to study geophysics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, where he completed his M.S. in geophysics in 1981. He started work in the Denver office of Amoco shortly after graduation and he quickly applied his skills by writing a proprietary refraction statics program and developing interpretation tools based on interval attribute analysis.

Throughout his career, Mike has shown an uncanny ability to recognize problems and concerns and address them in a practical manner. This ability extends well beyond the technical arena. These traits, combined with his management, people, business, and communication skills have been a major benefit to the companies he has worked with and for SEG. Throughout his professional career, Mike has served SEG on several committees, most notably, the Global Affairs Committee, as First Vice President on the 1999-2000 Executive Committee, as President-elect in 2001-2002, and as President in 2002-2003. I had the pleasure to work with Mike on the Executive Committee in 2001-2002 and found his thoughtfulness, dedication, and optimism to be infectious. Although I was sometimes the recipient of his wit and humor, it was always welcome and helped us through some difficult times. “Walt, it looks like you slept in those clothes last night!” was the greeting I received as I walked into an Executive Committee meeting in Florence, Italy, the day after my luggage failed to arrive. During Mike’s tenure on the Executive Committee, he and his team helped guide SEG through some tough financial times and made significant contributions towards the development of new business opportunities, including NAPE and IPTC that now generate significant revenue for the Society.

Students and local student societies have always been an extremely important part of SEG. Recognizing the significant growth in non-U.S. geoscience students throughout the world and the financial difficulties that inhibit many students from joining SEG, Mike helped raise money to fund student memberships and stepped forward in his executive position at Apache to pay for all global membership dues for several years. This generous offer bolstered and indeed accelerated the phenomenal growth of SEG student and global members.

SEG is truly blessed to have such fine members and leaders as Mike Bahorich. Those of us that have been fortunate to work with Mike over the years are doubly blessed. On behalf of SEG, I say thanks to his wife Donna and their family for allowing Mike the time to do the many things he has done, and continues to do, for the advancement of exploration geophysics. Mike is truly deserving of SEG Honorary Membership and we thank him for his dedicated service.

Biography for Citation for the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal 1998

Contributed by Peter Pangman

Who in the worldwide community of oil industry geophysicists today does not know of the Coherency Cube? Who has not marveled at those subsurface seismic images as crisp as satellite imagery: radial fault patterns as articulate witnesses of the stress of salt piercement, meandering rivers struggling to free themselves from the hanging wall lows of growth faults, point bars in the meander bends? Who does not remember those classic images first presented at the SEG Annual Meeting and published in The Leading Edge in 1995 (link to article)?

"I screamed at the screen" is how Mike Bahorich describes that day in late 1993 when viewing the results of his critical experiment in bidirectional short window cross-correlation. This conjures an image of the inventor as eccentric; perhaps even of invention as a random act. This image is false. This was simply the most recent in a series of technical accomplishments during his 15 years with Amoco. A graduate of the University of Missouri and Virginia Polytechnic Institute (and proud of it!), he started in the Denver office in 1981. He was quickly recognized as one of those rare geophysical interpreters who innately understand the symbiosis of acquisition, processing, and the interpreter's challenge. His first contribution was to develop a proprietary refraction statics approach in support of exploration in the Rocky Mountains (published in Geophysics in 1982 as the ABCD method; link to article). His next contribution was to move beyond the subjective art of seismic sequence stratigraphy to develop a rigorous data-driven approach for extracting stratigraphic information from seismic data. The result was SSAM (Seismic Sequence Attribute Mapping), a suite of seismic interval attributes. This was shortly thereafter made available to industry through Advance Geophysical and is now incorporated in Landmark's Post-Stack/PAL. Mike always persisted no matter what the obstacles. His contributions and inventions stood out because of their alignment: they addressed today's exploration problems, and they simplified the search for oil and gas.


The next step was a move to Amoco's Research Center in Tulsa to join a newly formed sequence stratigraphy R&D group. Again the emphasis was on real data, real problems, and now they came to him from all over the world. One of these, an attempt to directly map the edges of shale diapirs in West Africa, started the thought process that led to this award. I recall the excitement vividly: the first startling displays, the rapid spread of the technology, algorithm advances from Mike's peers. Mike made a video, complete with animation of a Coherency Cube that was covertly shown to officials of national oil companies and government ministries around the world. The Coherency Cube was more than an advance we geophysicists were proud of. It provided a true competitive edge in business. I remember the concern over confidentiality, the patent applications, and the decision to commercialize which led to Mike's 1995 SEG presentations. The buzz got around the convention, and there was standing room only in the presentation hall. It was an exciting time during which all of us shared that sense of discovery, feeling that enthusiasm and wonder that is so much a part of Mike.


Mike moved on. He joined Apache as chief geophysicist in 1996. They quickly recognized his talent to make the difficult seem easy, to see through the status quo to new and better solutions. Now he is vice-president, Exploration Technology. He has been instrumental in the development of the Western Geophysical-Apache alliance. He understands that the interpretation process cannot be separated from the development and application of technology, that solving today's complex geophysical problems requires partnerships. Again he is changing the paradigms we geophysicists are accustomed to.

Mike's enthusiasm is overwhelming and infectious. It is a joy and a privilege to work with him. His passion for geophysics as a tool for discovering nature's secrets never wavers. His pride and love for his wife and children are just as evident. He has significantly changed the way geophysicists interpret 3-D seismic data and the way oil industry management views our profession. He is worthy of joining the other great geophysicists who have received the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal.

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.[1]


  1. Marfurt, K. J., et. al. (1998), 3-D seismic attributes using a semblance-based coherency algorithm Geophysics, 63(4):1150.

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