Oleg Mikhailov

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Oleg Mikhailov
Oleg V. Mikhailov headshot.png
Latest company Chevron
BSc Physics
MSc Physics
PhD Exploration Geophysics
BSc university Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
MSc university Dartmouth College
PhD university MIT

SEG is honoring Oleg V. Mikhailov with the J. Clarence Karcher Award to recognize fundamental contributions to the electroseismic phenomena and multicomponent data processing. Oleg demonstrated that the electroseismic phenomena can be observed in the field and he subsequently explained and simulated it numerically. In multicomponent data processing, he developed a methodology for joint imaging of PP and PS data.

Biography Citation for the J. Clarence Karcher Award 2002[1]

Contributed by Tamas Nemeth

Oleg Mikhailov is a problem solver and it is our good luck that he has spent the last 10 years working in exploration geophysics. He is not afraid to enter a new discipline, quickly climb the learning curve, and start making scientific contributions in a very short time. He is also acutely aware of the economic drivers of projects, and of how to organize people and activities to accomplish the goals.

Oleg came from a family of scientists and diplomats and, after high school, had to decide whether to continue studying science or set forth on a diplomatic career. He chose to work in the oil industry, because it combined both technological and international relations challenges. Oleg started his higher education by studying mechanics of continuous media, obtaining a Diploma Summa Cum Laude from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (1991) and a MSc from Dartmouth College (1993). For his doctorate, Oleg went to MIT to work on multiphase flows but he was fortunate to be invited by Nafi Toksoz to work at the Earth Resources Laboratory (ERL) where he was introduced to exploration geophysics and electroseismic phenomena became the center of his work until he graduated in 1998. Although electroseismic phenomena have been studied for over 60 years, Oleg was the first to derive electroseismic properties of rocks around a borehole from field measurements.

To achieve this, Oleg built a borehole electroseismic measurement device, made electroseismic measurements in logging and VSP configurations, and developed noise reduction techniques and algorithms that improved the signal-to-noise ratio in electroseismic data by a factor of a thousand. He also developed a theoretical model that related the amplitude and amplitude-versus-frequency behavior of electroseismic signals to the porosity and permeability of the rocks around the borehole. While at ERL, Oleg collaborated with over 30 people from six companies and five academic institutions. One of his papers on this work, published in GEOPHYSICS, earned an Honorable Mention Award.

When Oleg joined Chevron in September 1998, he claims that all he knew about seismic migration was a diagram that a colleague drew for him on a napkin one month before. The diagram must have been really good, because within a year Oleg was working on extending Gaussian Beam prestack depth migration for nonflat topography. In the following year, Oleg led a small research group in developing a workflow for joint imaging, velocity analysis, and anisotropy estimation of multicomponent (PP and PS) data. He demonstrated that migration velocity analysis for PS data can be done in a fashion similar to that for PP data—i.e., the errors in the S-wave velocity model can be derived from the residual curvature of PS gathers (as a P-wave velocity model is from PP gathers) but sorted in a different manner. Oleg also showed how to derive the Thomsen anisotropy parameters, epsilon and delta, from differences in isotropic image depths of PP and PS reflectors and their true positions measured in wells. This methodology has been used to image multicomponent seismic data over Alba Field (UK sector of North Sea).

Today SEG honors Oleg Mikhailov with the J. Clarence Karcher Award for these two fundamental contributions. Oleg is driven by curiosity in a broad range of technical and nontechnical subjects and I expect to see more creative achievements in the future. Currently he leads the Subsurface Uncertainty and Associated Commercial Risk program for ChevronTexaco, which spans earth modeling, flow simulation, optimization, economic modeling, and decision analysis. This August he starts an MBA program at U.C. Berkeley to complement his scientific education and to tackle new kinds of complex problems.

Honorable Mention (Geophysics) 1997

Oleg V. Mikhailov, Matthijs W. Haartsen, and M. Nafi Toksöz received 1997 Honorable Mention (Geophysics) for their paper Electroseismic investigation of the shallow subsurface: Field measurements and numerical modeling.[2]


  1. 2002 SEG Annual Meeting SEG Honors and Awards Program
  2. Mikhailov, O. V., M. W. Haartsen, and M. N.Toksöz (1997) Electroseismic investigation of the shallow subsurface: Field measurements and numerical modeling, GEOPHYSICS 62(1):97.