Paul Lyons

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Paul Lyons
Paul L. Lyons headshot.jpg
President year 1954

Paul L. Lyons was a pioneering geophysicist. He served as the 1954-1955 SEG President.

Paul Lyons was Editor of ''Geophysics'' for the years 1951-1952 and 1952-1953.[1]

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Ben F. Rummerfield

At infrequent intervals a few individuals, who eminently qualified for the professional position they hold, appear on life's scene. Their talents are so outstanding and uniquely combined that it becomes difficult to determine whether they were created for the position in life they fulfill, or whether the position was created for the man. It is almost invariably true that their abilities are so diversified that they perform in an outstanding manner in whatever other activities they enter and they are usually many. Such a man is Paul Lyons; and it is for these and other reasons he is today being awarded an Honorary Membership in the SEG.

There are those who claim that Paul was not born in the customary manner, but rather that he actually is a "dropout" from the original flying saucer that was first sighted hovering over Oklahoma City on December 23, 1911.

It is particularly fitting that he receive this honor in Oklahoma City today as, in his usual thorough manner Paul arranged to be born on Oklahoma Street, in Oklahoma Township, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County of the State of Oklahoma. He attended DePauw University College where he earned a B.S. in geology in 1933 and later did graduate work, obtaining a Masters Degree in Science and taught at the University of Tulsa.

With an abiding interest and talent in geology, mathematics, and physics, it was only natural that Paul should join Humble Oil as a geophysicist upon graduation. A year later he was transferred to Carter Oil, where he worked for 16 years in various technical and administrative positions, his last position being that of Chief Geologist. After leaving Carter, Paul joined Anchor Petroleum Company for three years as manager of exploration and production. In 1954 Paul joined Sinclair Oil & Gas Company and is today Chief Geophysicist of that company. He also serves on the Exploration and Operations Committees as well as the Executive Committee of Sinclair.

Paul, early in his professional life, determined that his main goal was to find oil, and he set about to accomplish this aim in a dedicated and competent manner. His enthusiasm, imagination, and knowledge readily provided the tools whereby he worked out geological and geophysical interpretation which led to the discovery of the Golden Lane Trend of Central Oklahoma. For this accomplishment he was given a trip to Venezuela, ostensibly as a reward, but also with the hope on the part of the Carter management that, whatever Paul had, it was catching. Later, Paul was the first to recognize the structure that is now the Magnolia field of Arkansas. This discovery was based upon his recognition and identification of deep reflections emanating from the Smackover. Other major fields in which he was either directly, or indirectly, involved include the Loudon field of Illinois (written up by Paul in Volume I of Geophysical Case Histories); the Leduc field of Canada and the Provincia field of Colombia, South America.

In addition he has been instrumental in the discovery and development of at least 12 additional smaller oil fields. Without question, Paul is one of the world's outstanding "oil finders."

Paul has been president of SEG for two years; Editor for two years; editor of Volume II of Geophysical Case Histories; and he has served on more committees than can be enumerated. He has served as president of the AGI and the Geophysical Society of Tulsa and on various committees of the AAPG. He is also a member of AGU, Tulsa Geological Society, API, and Sigma Xi. He has served on numerous committees and in various executive positions for each of these organizations.

He is the author of many technical papers included in the publications of SEG, AAPG ("Tectonic Map of the U.S."), Kansas Geological Survey ("The Greenleaf Anomaly"), and of various geological societies ("Geophysics and Geology of the Gulf of Mexico" and "Gravity of the United States"). He has a book, Continental Geophysics at present in preparation for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Like the moon, Paul (who now weighs 205 lbs.) has another side that is relatively unknown. In addition to being an inventor (holding a patent on Subterranean Wave-Guide issued in 1955), he is an accomplished pianist and is capable of playing either classical or modern music, and at the same time working out a complex problem in partial differential equations. He writes music and plays for the annual Gridiron Skit for the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, a column for the Rotary Club, and the annual program for the Tulsa Tennis Club. As to hobbies, he is a reformed girl watcher, good tennis player, and reluctant horticulturist. He has a more than average interest in the theory of games and laws of probability, and is known at the Sinclair Research Lab as "The Wizard of Odds." He has the many civic and social activities and responsibilities that go with a complete and dedicated person. He performs these many duties and responsibilities with surprising ease and a fine sense of humor (I hope).

Paul's wife, Abbe, who is a former newspaper woman, is kept more than busy scheduling their five active teenagers in and out of school, clubs, and the many activities in which they and Abbe are engaged.

Only the high spots of an illustrious career in geophysics and oil finding are covered in this citation, but it is obvious that Paul has proved to be one of the dominating influences in present day geophysics.

His advice and opinions are widely sought, not only within Sinclair Oil, but throughout the entire industry. The awarding of Honorary Membership in the SEG to Paul L. Lyons is a token of the esteem and respect he has won from his fellow members for his many accomplishments, talents, and for the dedicated manner in which he has always furthered the causes of petroleum and mineral exploration.

Acceptance of Honorary Membership

by Paul L. Lyons

A man paces his life with milestones, some of which can be clearly seen ahead. This one of mine, unforeseen, and encountered under these auspicious circumstances, is to me a monumental one, providing a great lift of the spirit. This milestone is emplaced here in the midst of my friends and co-workers these many years, so that I can only say that my cup runneth over.

To this Society and you men who have conferred this honor, I can also say that I am most deeply and most sincerely appreciative. Because of my devotion and love for this Society I assure you that nothing could affect me more. For I am quite sure that seldom in this world has such a group as this Society been assembled in common bond; seldom has a group existed with such unanimity of purpose, with such camaraderie, with such a continued chain of dedicated leadership, with such success in its mission and purpose.

I say to you that we are all honored to be a small part of this Society "This happy breed of men, this little world," as Shakespeare once wrote. For we have truly braved this little world with our explorations, and made it one world in geophysics.

Biography for SEG Presidency 1953 [2]

Paul L. Lyons received the A.B. degree in geology from DePauw University in 1933 and commpleted work on the M.Sc. in geology from The University of Tulsa in 1942. In 1934 he began work in geophysics on a Humble Oil and Refining Company seismograph party. In 1935 he was transferred to The Carter Oil Company in Tulsa as a computer. In 1943 he became chief computer and in 1947 technical geophysical supervisor for Carter. In 1949 he became technical assistant to the vice-president in charge of exploration. In 1950 he was staff geologist in Tulsa for Carter's eastern division. Since 1951 Mr. Lyons has been exploration manager for Anchor Petroleum Company, Tulsa. In 1948 he served as vice-chairman of the S.E.G. Public Relations Committee, and in 1949 and 1950 as chairman of that committee. In 1950 he was also vice-chairman of the Standing Committee on Program and Arrangements. He was vice-president of the Geophysical Society of Tulsa for the 1950-1951 term. He was elected Editor of the Society, serving from March, 1951 through March, 1953, and was elected president of the Geophysical Society of Tulsa for one year beginning in May, 1952. He is at present chairman of the Standing Committee on Distinguished Lectures and member of the Special Committee on Business Office Survey, and editor of Geophysical Case Histories, Vol. II.

Mr. Lyons is a member of The American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa Geological Society, Geophysical Society of Tulsa, and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists.


  1. Clark, D. (2010), Out of the past. The Leading Edge," 75(5), 75A263-75A271.
  2. Geophysics, Vol XVIII October 1953, number 4, page 983.

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