Öz Yilmaz

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Öz Yilmaz
Oz Yilmaz headshot.jpg
BSc Geology with Geophysics Option
MSc Geophysics
PhD Geophysics
BSc university University of Missouri-Rolla
MSc university Stanford University
PhD university Stanford University

Öz Yilmaz received his BS in Geology with Geophysics Option from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1970, MS in Geophysics with research in rock physics and earthquake seismology from Stanford University in 1972, and after five years in the industry, a PhD in Geophysics with research in exploration seismology from Stanford University in 1979. Öz has been working in the seismic industry for 41 years; and since 2000, he has broadened his interests in geophysics to include engineering seismology. Aside from numerous publications on all aspects of seismic data analysis, he wrote the SEG book entitled Seismic Data Processing published by SEG in 1987; with the expanded, two-volume second edition entitled Seismic Data Analysis published, again by SEG, in 2001.

For his ‘contributions to the science of geophysical exploration,' he was honored by the SEG in 1991 with the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal Award, and for his ‘teachings in geophysics,' he was honored by the EAGE in 1992 with the Conrad Schlumberger Award. For his ‘contributions to the geophysical profession in a global manner,' his biography has been included in Who's Who in the World, 1998 edition. For his ‘outstanding and influential contributions to the oil and gas industry, and fundamental developments in the field of geophysical prospecting,' he was elected a member to the European Academy of Sciences in 2002. For his ‘outstanding professional contributions,' he was honored by his Alma Mater University of Missouri-Rolla with an Honorary Professional Degree in Geology and Geophysics in 2003. For his ‘outstanding professional contributions,' he was honored by the Geophysical Society of Houston in 2009 with Honorary Membership. For his ‘outstanding publications,' he was honored by the SEG in 2011 with Honorary Membership.

2015 SEG Distinguished Instructor Short Course

Engineering Seismology with Applications to Geotechnical Engineering

The near-surface is the subject of all three branches of seismology --- earthquake seismology, exploration seismology, and engineering seismology. The difference is not just a matter of scale, but also the nature of seismic wave propagation.

The narrow scope of engineering seismology includes its applications to geotechnical site investigations, and seismic microzonation to determine soil amplification and liquefaction susceptibility within a municipal area to estimate the earthquake risk. The broad scope of engineering seismology also includes its application to groundwater exploration, coal and mineral exploration, geothermal exploration, and investigations of historical buildings and archaeological sites. This course is devoted to application of the seismic method to delineate the near-surface geology primarily for geotechnical remediation of the soil column for civil engineering structures. Nevertheless, the course also includes case studies for the broader scope of engineering seismology.

The following topics will be addressed in this course:

  • Seismic waves: body waves, surface waves, the dispersion spectrum, and Rayleigh-wave dispersion
  • Seismic modeling of the soil column: P-wave velocity estimation, shallow seismic imaging, S-wave velocity estimation, borehole velocity measurements, and correlation of seismic velocities with geotechnical borehole data
  • Site characterization: five case studies
  • Landslide investigations: hydroelectric dam project site, refinery project site, and residential housing project site
  • Active fault investigations: nuclear power plant project, refinery project, and subsea road tunnel project
  • Seismic microzonation: refraction seismic survey and reflection seismic survey
  • Geophysical investigations of historic buildings: the Great Church of St. Sophia, the Mosque of Sultan Mehmet, the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, and the Bridge of Emperor Justinianus
  • Exploration of earth resources: groundwater exploration, coal exploration, mineral exploration, and geothermal exploration

Additional Resource

The accompanying textbook is available for purchase.[1]

Biography Citation for Honorary Membership

Originally contributed by Jon Claerbout

Öz Yilmaz received his BS in geology and geophysics from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1970 and MS in geophysics in rock physics and earthquake seismology from Stanford University with Amos Nur in 1972. Amos writes, “Long before the emergence of shale gas, as a student at Stanford he derived the equations that modeled for the first time the nonlinear effects of effective pressure (confining minus pore) on hydraulic permeability. He showed in micro-cracked rocks that pore-pressure distribution deviates significantly from standard diffusion and becomes more like a pressure front.”

After five years at Turkish Petroleum Company, Öz earned his PhD geophysics with me at Stanford in 1979 with work on dip moveout in exploration seismology. I’ve never had a student finish so fast!

Öz has been working in the seismic industry for 38 years including 12 years at Western Geophysical (Houston and London), 4 years at Schlumberger (London), 3 years at Paradigm Geophysical (London), and finally, he founded Anatolian Geophysical (Istanbul) in 2001, providing services in seismic data analysis and project management. He has participated with numerous organizations in Turkey. Öz became Chief Technology Officer to GeoTomo in Houston in 2002 to develop workflow products for processing, inversion, and interpretation of land seismic data.

In the last decade, Öz has taken his oil-industry experience in seismic data analysis to the diverse fields of earthquake seismology and geotechnical site investigations. Öz launched a pioneering project in Turkey that included evaluating seismic results and borehole measurements at about 200 sites.

Fred Hilterman writes, “‘As an enthusiastic history buff, Öz has expanded his engineering activities to include GPR surveys for archeological investigation of ancient buildings. One can visualize Öz “pontificating” his GPR findings with tidbits of ancient history to dramatize the discovery.” Fred continues, “From his first edition of Seismic Data Processing in 1988, his work has withstood the scrutiny of our professionals and it continues to be SEG’s second biggest seller after Sheriff ’s dictionary. It is an outstanding example of SEG’s objective to promote the science of geophysics and as such, it is definitely a distinguished contribution that in itself warrants exceptional recognition. An informal publication that filled a big need for me and for academia generally, was Öz’s preparation (with D. Cumro) and distribution of raw data of a collection of 40 seismic shot profiles from around the world. Academics often reach out to the “real world” and Öz provided exactly what they needed. My what a diverse world we have! These 40 shot records are sprinkled throughout my books and the many papers and theses done at Stanford and elsewhere.

Steve Doherty writes, “Öz has put on an uncountable number of schools and presentations in both public forums and in local society meetings and in government and private organizations all over the globe.”

Ken Larner writes, “What an accomplishment it was for him to have created (his books) without skipping a beat in his many obligations while in the research group at Western Geophysical. He was successful (no small feat) in gaining approval from Western to include all those marvelous examples in his book. Öz is a teacher, entrepreneur, researcher. He never stops.”

John Etgen writes, “There’s a long list of things he’s been influential on from a technical perspective, his books, his wide-ranging knowledge of processing in general to his latest efforts around difficult land data and the near surface. I think what people know him best for are his presentations... always entertaining, always engaging. He was the first one to teach me the difference between ‘eating’ and ‘dining.’ He never ‘dines’ without visiting the kitchen!”

Yilmaz Elected to National Academy of Engineering

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced on 9 February 2022 that 111 new members and 22 international members have been elected, including two geophysicists, Leon Thomsen as a new member, and Öz Yilmaz as an international member. Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer or applied scientist.

Yilmaz’s induction is “for leadership in developing innovative methods for processing seismic reflection data and educating a generation of geophysicists.” Via a number of technical publications and four SEG-published massive and comprehensive texts, Yilmaz has provided the foundation for geophysicists around the world to learn, utilize, and optimize seismic reflection data acquisition and processing. These methods are widely used for oil and gas exploration and near-surface engineering. Yilmaz’s first book, Seismic Data Processing, was published in 1987. This work was greatly expanded in a two-volume set, Seismic Data Analysis, published in 2001. Yilmaz published Engineering Seismology with Applications to Geotechnical Engineering in 2015 and Land Seismic Case Studies for Near-Surface Modeling and Subsurface Imaging in 2021. His publications, along with the numerous courses and lectures he has given around the world (he was an SEG Distinguished Lecturer in 1996 and an SEG Distinguished Instructor in 2015) have had a remarkable impact on a generation of geophysicists around the world. By way of lectures, courses, presentations at professional meetings, publications, and books, Yilmaz has made an enormous impact on the careers of many professionals by disseminating his knowledge and experience in exploration seismology and engineering seismology.

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