Norman Burkhard

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Norman Burkhard
Norman R. Burkhard headshot.png
Latest company Lawrence Livermore National Lab
BSc Physics
MSc Physics
PhD Physics
BSc university Pennsylvania State University
MSc university University of California at Los Angeles
PhD university University of California at Los Angeles


Special Commendation 1998

The SEG is awarding a Special Commendation to the members of the SEG/EAGE Modeling Project. Particularly deserving of recognition are project leader Fred Aminzadeh, Alain Bamberger, Jean Brac, Norm Burkhard, Pierre Duclos, Tim Kunz, Laurence Nicoletis, Fabio Rocca, and Kay Wyatt.


Citation for Special Commendation

Contributed by Ken Larner


If there is one thing that the seismic exploration community has plenty of it’s data — readily in astronomical (or, should we say, geophysical) amounts, and from every part of the globe and from every conceivable environment. Well, it turns out that a large group of geophysicists, and two geophysical societies, thought that we neither had enough data nor had we truly tapped every possible acquisition environment. So, they embarked on designing a survey and collecting massive additional amounts of data — this time from the depths of computers, from four of the world’s largest and most powerful computers.

Under the leadership of Fred Aminzadeh, volunteers from more than 50 organizations pooled their creative energies and large expertise, culminating, in the 3-D SEG/EAGE Modeling Project, through which were generated multifold 3-D synthetic seismic data over two complex 3-D geologic models, the Salt Model and the Overthrust Model. These two control data sets are freely available worldwide to academic and industrial researchers for uses (both foreseen and not yet envisioned) aimed at (1) better understanding of problems in imaging data acquired over complex structures and intricate stratigraphy, (2) testing and validation of processing algorithms, and (3) aiding in survey design.

This year, SEG honors the members of the 3-D SEG/EAGE Modeling Project with this Special Commendation, the award established to give “recognition and special commendation to deserving persons for meritorious service to the public, the scientific community, or to our profession.”

The number of volunteers involved in this collaborative and highly cooperative effort is far too large to mention here, but special recognition is in order to acknowledge the intensive efforts of Fred Aminzadeh, Alain Bamberger, Jean Brac, Norm Burkhard, Pierre Duclos, Tim Kunz, Laurence Nicoletis, Fabio Rocca, and Kay Wyatt. These and many others put in thousands of hours to design and construct the two geologic models, to design the acquisition parameters, to write, test, and select the appropriate finite-difference modeling software, to schedule the necessary computer resources, and to make available the resulting models and benchmark seismic data. In addition to time taken from their jobs (and therefore donated by their organizations), many of these volunteers have devoted numerous weekends and evenings to the demands of the project.

A project of this scope could not come about without the gracious support of many organizations, including sponsorship by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers, plus primary funding from the United States Department of Energy Gas and Oil Information Infrastructure. That funding included use of massively parallel computers at four national laboratories, with their high-speed input/output capability, high-end networking, mass data storage, distributed computing, and advanced visualization techniques. Using 3-D finite-difference modeling code developed at Institut Français du Petrole, this mobilized massive computer power still required years of computation in order to produce the three terabytes of data for the two models that will serve the industry as benchmark data for years to come. Because of the dedication and foresight of these volunteers, anyone in the world who has access to the World Wide Web on the Internet can obtain the reports, geologic models, and (with sufficient computer horsepower) the seismic data generated by the project. Truly, the generosity of the many people who, starting from a grand dream have brought about this outstanding reality, sets a standard for the word “volunteer.