Nigel Anstey

From SEG Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Nigel Anstey
N. A. Anstey headshot.png
Membership Honorary Member
MSc Pulse-compression[1]
BSc university University of Bristol
MSc university University of London[1]

Nigel N. Anstey has received SEG Honorary Membership, the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal, and the Maurice Ewing Medal for his large number of contributions to geophysics. The Desiderius Erasmus Award was presented presented to Nigel Anstey in recognition of his outstanding and lasting achievements in the field of resource exploration and development in 2014 .

Biography Citation for the Award of Honorary Membership

Contributed by D. R. Stone

Awards for excellence, in their nature, must ordinarily go to the specialist. It is pleasant, therefore, to endorse the award of Honorary Membership to an all-rounder.

Nigel A. Anstey is indeed an all-rounder.

Early Career

After joining SSL in 1948, he served for 5 years as observer on seismic crews in the Middle East and the West Indies. In the heat and sand and jungle and swamp were born for him, as for many of us, the understanding that the seismic method must above all else be practical.

In 1953 Nigel moved to headquarters as a research geophysicist. In this function he was able to develop his interest in instrumentation, an interest which was to lead later to his election as a Fellow of the Institution of Electronic and Radio Engineers. The mid-fifties were the period of the reproducible record and its derivative, the corrected cross-section, and the SSL team made significant contributions to these developments. It must appear unthinkable to a newcomer today that once we did not have corrected cross-sections.

The mid-1950s were also the period of the synthetic seismogram, and in 1959 Nigel published the first account of the way in which short-path peg-leg multiples offset the enormous transmission losses in the earth. At the time, it was a strange revelation that the seismic method works only because of multiple reflections.

As early as 1955 Nigel had embarked on the endeavors by which he is best known: the explanation to geologically oriented interpreters, in a non-mathematical manner, of the consequences of the seismic technology. A two-fold contribution to the technology itself, and to the exposition of the technology has been his hallmark ever since. This was shown particularly clearly in 1961, when the Vibroseis system began to be used commercially; he was the inventor (with W. E. Lerwill) of the magnetic correlator which first made the Vibroseis system really practical, and the author of the "Introduction to Vibroseis" which is still required reading for the newcomer.

Over the years, his contributions to the technology have yielded more than 30 multinational patents, while his expositions have included many published papers and two books. The two books, one on seismic instruments and one on seismic interpretation, epitomize well the bridge which Nigel represents between the means and the end of our science.

In 1968-69 Nigel set up the European arm of Seiscom Delta, somehow contriving to maintain his output of technical contributions and tutorial contributions while running a thriving business. This period was of particular importance to the success of the fourth round of licensing in the North Sea.

In 1975, forced to slacken the pace somewhat, Nigel turned to independent teaching and consulting work. In this position he has been able both to practice and to teach others the newly emergent possibilities for that old dream of making seismic interpretation more quantitative.

From the early days, Nigel has been an enthusiastic member of the European Association of Exploration Geophysicists. Many of his papers were published in the EAGE's journal Geophysical Prospecting, helping to establish "the green book" as a substantial contribution to the geophysical literature. He has served on the EAGE Council and several of its committees, and in 1973 was elected President.

His service to geophysics has previously been recognized by the Best Presentation Award and the Kauffman Gold Medal of the SEG, by the Schlumberger Award of the EAGE, and by the Matson Award of the AAPG. It is now a particular pleasure for an old friend, who remembers well the days of the heat and the sand and the jungle and the swamp, to endorse the conferral of the culminating award of Honorary Membership of the SEG on Nigel A. Anstey, all-rounder.

Biography Citation for the Maurice Ewing Medal 1985

Contributed by Ray C. Farrell

"People are expecting great things from us. So let's go. With care-plain, simple painstaking, conscientious care."

The words are taken from an intercompany memo marking the opening of a new data processing center, of which Nigel was the managing director. The words, admittedly taken out of context, made a profound and lasting impression upon men. The words speak volumes about the nature of the man and the reason that the SEG honors him today with the presentation of its highest award, the Maurice Ewing Medal Award. The words, written for a young eager group of data processors, have echoed time and time again from Nigel's books and presentations to a much larger audience--to our entire profession as a whole.

Nigel's career spans 37 years and includes every major division of the seismic exploration method--field work, processing, interpretation, and research. After graduation from the University of Bristol in 1948, he worked in the field as observer on field crews in the Middle East and the West Indies for SSL. The realities of the field prevented any hint of "ivory tower" isolation in Nigel's later work.

In 1953, he returned to England as a research geophysicist. During this period, Nigel made substantial contributions to the development of analog magnetic recording and its associated analog processing. This work is reflected in some of his early papers in EAGE's journal, Geophysical Prospecting, and contributed to his election as a Fellow of the Institution of Electronic and Radio Engineers. In 1961, Nigel was co-inventor of the magnetic correlator and thus helped usher the Vibroseis system into practical usage. Thus far, he has secured more than 30 patents in his career.

In the late 1950s Nigel addressed the topic of the earth's effects on the seismic wave form. One of his papers, "Why all this interest in the shape of the pulse?"[2], published in 1957, still serves as a guide to areas of profitable research. In 1959, Nigel published the first explanation of the reinforcing effects of short-path peg-leg multiples on the transmission of the seismic pulse.

Nigel's communication skills were already evident in his early work with his well chosen, understandable words, the eloquent simple diagrams, the injected wit that charms us while refocusing our attention, and the melding of the geophysical tool and the geologic objective. These trademarks of Nigel's style led to the Conrad Schlumberger Award from the EAGE and the Best Presentation Award from the SEG, both in 1964.

In 1968, Nigel joined Seiscom Delta, Inc., establishing Seiscom Limited in Sevenoaks, Kent, England, and serving as senior vice-president and as director. In the early 1970s, he turned his attention to the area of seismic displays and played a key role by helping introduce the color seismic section into routine use. The publishing of his first book, Seismic Prospecting Instruments, Volume I[3], and continuing technical contributions resulted in the Kauffman Gold Medal Award in 1972.

In 1973, Nigel served as president of the EAGE. In his Presidential Address, "How do we know we are right?"[4] he said, "And so it seems to many of us that the time has come to strengthen the criterion of geologic plausibility. Further, it seems that this should be part of a broad effort, by geophysicists, to provide internal validation of their conclusions." The statement proved to be a touchstone for his later work and the direction of the industry. The Matson Award from the AAPG in 1974 confirmed Nigel's geologic themes were appreciated by fellow explorationists.

In 1975, Nigel became an independent geophysical consultant, actively involved in exploration, in teaching, and in writing. A series of short courses and a second book, Seismic Interpretation, The Physical Aspects[5], followed shortly thereafter. In 1976 a basic VSP patent was secured on the use of the downgoing signal to deconvolve the upgoing signal. Further recognition by the SEG came the form of Honorary Membership in 1977.

Nigel's contributions to the industry continued. Two more books, Seismic Exploration for Sandstone Reservoirs[6] and Simple Seismics[7], along with the authorship or co-authorship of 15 monographs in a video library series increased our collective understanding of seismic method. Of the monographs, Nigel laughingly remarks, "there are only 30 more to go!" In a recent work he formalized the concept of three stack array. Nigel's impact on the industry and his communication skills were formally recognized again with his 1983 Distinguished Lecture, "A few things left to do." One has to believe, based on his past accomplishments, that Nigel will substantially contribute to these too.

Nigel stated in a recent letter, "I do take pleasure in writing teaching material which transcends the artificial boundaries between field work, processing, and interpretation; and indeed, the artificial boundaries between geophysics and geology also. If my generation of geophysicists has anything to offer the new generation, as we pass the baton to them, it is perhaps this wide view of the science as a whole."

To his wonderful wife Wendy, his two daughters, and his prized grandchildren, we say thanks for sharing Nigel with us. For we know that "care plain, simple, painstaking, conscientious care" also takes time.


  • Anstey, N. A. (1973). "Thirty Fifth Meeting of the European Association of Exploration Geophysicists, Held in Brighton, 5th, 6th, 7th And 8th June, 1973 Presidential Address". Geophysical Prospecting 21 (3): 407–411. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2478.1973.tb00036.x. ISSN 0016-8025.
  • Anstey, N. A.; Lerwill, W. E. (1966). "Correlation in Real Time". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 290 (1422): 430–447. doi:10.1098/rspa.1966.0060. ISSN 1364-5021.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Anstey, N. A.; Lerwill, W. E. (1966). "Correlation in Real Time". Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 290 (1422): 430–447. doi:10.1098/rspa.1966.0060. ISSN 1364-5021.
  2. Anstey, N. A. (1958). "Symposium on Changes of Shape of Seismic Pulses*. Why All This Interest in the Shape of the Pulse?". Geophysical Prospecting 6 (4): 394–403. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2478.1958.tb01662.x. ISSN 0016-8025.
  3. Anstey, N. A (1981). Seismic prospection instruments. Volume 1 Signal characteristics and instrument specifications. 2. rev. ed.. schweizerbart. ISBN 978-3-443-13303-0.
  4. Anstey, N. A. (1973). "Thirty Fifth Meeting of the European Association of Exploration Geophysicists, Held in Brighton, 5th, 6th, 7th And 8th June, 1973 Presidential Address". Geophysical Prospecting 21 (3): 407–411. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2478.1973.tb00036.x. ISSN 0016-8025.
  5. Anstey, Nigel A. (1977). Seismic Interpretation: The Physical Aspects. doi:10.1007/978-94-015-3924-1.
  6. Anstey, Nigel A. (1980). Seismic Exploration for Sandstone Reservoirs. doi:10.1007/978-94-011-7446-6.
  7. Anstey, N. A. (1982). Simple Seismics. doi:10.1007/978-94-011-7454-1.

External links

find literature about
Nigel Anstey
SEG button search.png Datapages button.png GeoScienceWorld button.png OnePetro button.png Schlumberger button.png Google button.png AGI button.png