Paul Bauman

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Paul Bauman
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Latest company Advisian WorleyParsons
BSc Geological Engineering
MSc earth sciences
BSc university Princeton University
MSc university University of Waterloo

Paul Bauman received a bachelor’s degree in Geological Engineering from Princeton University, and a Master’s degree from the University of Waterloo in groundwater and geophysics. He has more than 30 years experience in near surface geophysical exploration for groundwater, natural resources, tunnels, unexploded bombs, industrial waste, ancient burials, and anything that someone may want to find without drilling or digging. He is best known for his participation in a number of archaeological documentaries including Nova’s Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land, Deadly Deception at Sobibor, and National Geographic’s Finding Atlantis. More importantly, though, Paul has applied creative geophysical solutions to challenging groundwater situations in remote locations over much of his career, including in Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia, and Canada. Bauman successfully completed Geoscientists Without Borders® projects in Kakuma and Uganda, giving good connection to the namesake of this award.

2023 Global Sustainability Lecturer

Responding to the global water crisis: A strategy for improving water supply

Although 98% of the available freshwater in the world is groundwater, groundwater resources are not easily available in much of the world where subsurface water is the only option. In sub-Saharan Africa, conditions are particularly dire as 58% of the population is rural, and 90% of that rural population is dependent on agriculture. The increasing frequency and severity of droughts in East Africa and Southern Africa have further exacerbated the reliance of rural populations on groundwater. Today, more than 400 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live in water insecurity, meaning that they lack reasonable access to either sufficient quantities of water or to water of acceptable quality. For rural populations, a direct consequence of water insecurity is food insecurity. In the Horn of Africa alone, more than 60% of the population is food insecure, with more than 20 million people currently approaching famine conditions.

This talk will address four related actions in which sub-Saharan rural groundwater development can be ameliorated. These include:

  1. The improvement in assessing drill hole siting using geophysics
  2. Targeting aquifers of superior water quality
  3. Combining hand pump repair programs with geophysical exploration programs
  4. Educating governmental, non-governmental, and multi-national organizations working in rural water poverty as to the cost-effectiveness of using appropriate groundwater exploration methods, especially geophysical techniques.

Examples of rural water development programs will be presented from Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Zambia, and Tanzania.

Additional Resource

Listen to Paul discuss his lecture in The global water crisis and how to stop it, Episode 171[1] of Seismic Soundoff, in-depth conversations in applied geophysics.

2018 SEG Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution

Paul Bauman has more than 10 years of experience in humanitarian geophysical work in Uganda, Indonesia, and Malawi. He shows remarkable commitment, great project leadership and management skills, and the ability to align sponsor involvement. The results of his humanitarian work are documented and disseminated globally through his blog and publications. Bauman successfully completed Geoscientists Without Borders® projects in Kakuma and Uganda, giving good connection to the namesake of this award.

Biography Citation for the 2018 SEG Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution [2]

By Alastair McClymont

Paul Bauman has a rare mix of expertise in both geophysics and hydrogeology. He has a bachelor's degree in geological engineering from Princeton University (1981), and a master's degree in earth sciences, specializing in hydrogeology and geophysics, from the University of Waterloo (1989). Between degrees, he spent five years working for Schlumberger in remote jungle locations in Indonesian Borneo and Papua New Guinea. While living and working in these areas, Paul learned to speak Indonesian. This skill would prove serendipitous when in 2005 UNICEF requested help in assessing the impact to groundwater resources in Aceh Province, Indonesia, in the aftermath of the 26 December 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami. Paul was tasked with a field mission to assist with the redevelopment of water supplies in the devastated region. While there, he personally carried out a water-sampling program over the tsunami-affected areas of the province, mobilized three portable drilling rigs, and oversaw the drilling of new water wells. Paul's varied background and language skills were invaluable as he trained Indonesians in water sampling, drilling, water well installation, and data management.

Since founding the Komex (now Advisian) geophysics group in the early 1990s, Paul has been instrumental in facilitating groundwater exploration and community water supply projects, including in Yemen between 1992 and 2004 and in Malawi between 1999 and 2000. In 2014, volunteering his services with IsraAID, he taught an introductory hydrogeology and groundwater exploration course to refugees and host community Turkana. They were living under harsh drought conditions in and around the 186,000-person Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. The course was a part of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Initiative. Paul returned to Kakuma in 2015 and late 2016 to teach a second and third cohort of refugees. In 2015 and 2016, he implemented a similar training program in northern Uganda, in the Acholi-speaking areas devastated by the Lord's Resistance Army.

While staying in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in 2014, Paul recognized that the low success rate for new water wells could be greatly improved by utilizing modern geophysical techniques such as resistivity and seismic tomography methods. By using these methods to properly map the complex geology, groundwater aquifers less susceptible to excessive concentrations of fluoride could be identified, ultimately mitigating chronic health issues associated with fluorosis for the camp's refugee population. With a grant from SEG's Geoscientists Without Borders® (GWB) humanitarian aid fund, Paul returned to Kakuma in January 2016 with a team of volunteer geophysicists and equipment. Based on the results, at least three high-yielding water wells were installed, supplying safe drinking water to approximately 60,000 refugees in Turkana. A second GWB grant led to another volunteer project in northern Uganda in January 2018, for which Paul brought a team of geophysicists and hydrogeologists to teach local villagers how to repair damaged water wells and how to use donated geophysical equipment to site new water wells.

Having demonstrated the success of geophysical methods for water supply projects to refugees in Kenya and Uganda, UNHCR sought Paul's expertise to lead an emergency groundwater exploration program in southeastern Bangladesh, where since August 2017, upwards of 800,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar in response to a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign. Paul has also volunteered his services and geophysical equipment for many notable archaeology projects, some of which have been featured in television and film documentaries. However, it is Paul's commitment to helping the world's less fortunate gain access to life-saving drinking water that makes him an outstanding candidate for the inaugural Craig J. Beasley Award for Social Contribution.

Mapping resources that matter: TEDxCanmore


  2. (2018). ”Honors and Awards.” Alastair McClymont. The Leading Edge, 37(11), 842–854.

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