Norman Domenico

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Norman Domenico
Norman Domenico headshot.png
BSc university Colorado School of Mines
MSc university California Institute of Technology
PhD university Colorado School of Mines


S. Norman “Norm” Domenico (1925-2011) Colorado School of Mines Class of ’48, DSc ’51
 of Tulsa, Okla., died March 27, 2011. Norm was born in 1925 in Louisville, Colo., but was raised in Denver. He spent two years in the Naval Air Force before enrolling at Mines, where he earned a professional degree in geophysical engineering. A member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Norm went on to acquire a master’s in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology, where he worked as a graduate research assistant for Charles Richter. He returned to Mines for a doctorate in geophysics, and then was employed by Stanolind Oil and Gas (later renamed Amoco). Norm spent 22 years with Amoco; he held a wide variety of positions and traveled the world. In 1976, he was awarded a Distinguished Achievement Medal by Mines. His company, Norshir, was liquidated in 1996 as a life income gift to Mines. He taught courses on seismic exploration for Oil and Gas Consultants and was a visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma and Baylor University. Norm is survived by his wife of 61 years, Shirley; daughters, Debra and Cheryl; three grandsons; four sisters; and his nieces and nephews.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by R. A. Weis

Honorary membership in the SEG is an award reserved for those in that select group of earth scientists who have made significant contributions to exploration geophysics or who have rendered noteworthy service to the Society in promoting its goal to develop and maintain professional competence among its members in the field of exploration geophysics. This year, the Society in its recommendation to bestow this honor on Dr. S. Norman Domenico, stated that it is in recognition of his "many outstanding scientific and professional contributions to exploration geophysics." The recommendation further states that "Dr. Domenico has contributed substantially to our understanding of the effects of fluids on seismic velocity and other aspects of exploration seismology. He has served as Editor (1978-1979) and has been active in support of SEG activities throughout his career." For those of us who have had the good fortune to work with Norman at Amoco or in the Society for so many years, all would wholeheartedly concur with the SEG's good judgment in choosing him for the award. He has been a valuable asset to your profession and the Society.

Norman exhibited throughout his professional career the needed traits for a respected winner in any field: professional competence, integrity and total dedication to the job on hand. His many achievements and honors attest to that. He must have been influenced early on in his career by Thomas Edison's remark that genius was 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, for hard work and time are something that he so willingly and unselfishly gave for so many years. In spite of imposed and self-imposed work demands, Norman was always ready and willing to offer his services to those who were in need of his expert advice and assistance.

It's difficult to determine in the limited space allowed for this citation what to include and what to cut among Norman's numerous achievements and awards during some 40 years of service to the field of exploration geophysics. His academic training includes B.S. and DSc. degrees from the Colorado School of Mines and an M.S. degree from the California Institute of Technology. Upon completion of his doctorate degree, he joined Amoco (then Stanolind Oil and Gas) in February 1951 and was immediately assigned to a field seismic experimental crew which crisscrossed the USA and Canada in search of new field recording techniques to improve the quality of data. Norman quickly won the admiration and respect of his colleagues with his keen insight for solving difficult geophysical problems. It was not this quality alone that drew the respect, but also the manner in which he accomplished these tasks: articulate, gracious, hardworking and always ready to help anyone in need of assistance, regardless of the intrusion that it may have had on his personal time.

Norman held a number of responsible positions with Amoco among which were regional geophysical manager, manager geophysical research and chief geophysicist. He authored numerous reports, both for internal and external use. Two of the more significant reports published in Geophysics concerned the effect of brine-gas mixtures on velocity in unconsolidated reservoirs. The findings published in those reports were of significant importance to all who were engaged in developing and understanding bright spot technology back in the mid-'70s.

Among his honors and awards are the Wolff Medal for Academic Excellence, Colorado School of Mines, 1948; Best Paper in Geophysics, SEG, 1975; Distinguished Achievement Medal, Colorado School of Mines, 1976; and the Virgil Kauffman Award, SEG, 1981.

With respect to his dedication to SEG activities, Norman has served as Editor of Geophysics (1977-1979) and has held chairmanships of the SEG's Research Committee, Tellers Committee and the Distinguished Lecturer Committee. He was also Chairman of the Publications Committee from 1979 to 1981.

Since retiring from Amoco in 1983, Norman has been active teaching one-week schools on the seismic exploration method in the U.S., Canada, England, India, and Australia. Other activities include being a Baylor University Visiting Professor; co-editor of an SEG special publication entitled "Shear wave exploration" and a published paper in Geophysics on the determination of rock lithology and porosity from shear and compressional wave velocity.

As a friend and former colleague, I am very pleased and honored to have been chosen to write this citation for Norm Domenico. He is a fine gentleman who really deserves this award.

SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award 1974

S. N. Domenico received the 1974 SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award for his paperEffect of water saturation on seismic reflectivity of sand reservoirs encased in shale.[2]


  1. Nov 17th, 2011 Mines Magazine
  2. Domenico, S. N. (1974) Effect of water saturation on seismic reflectivity of sand reservoirs encased in shale, Geophysics, 40(2):309.