Paul Newman

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Paul Newman
Paul Newman headshot.png
Membership Honorary Member

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership 1995[1]

Contributed by B. W. Pace

Paul Newman and I first met during the summer of 1955, about a year after he had joined SSL (the UK subsidiary of SSC) as an assistant field observer. (Before then he had worked on radar applications in the Royal Air Force and also with the the UK Government's Telecommunications Research Establishment at Malvern.) Those were the days of rapid expansion in international oil exploration, and many young electronic engineers were attracted to the industry by the adventurous challenge of practicing their profession in remote and often inhospitable locations. (That the job was better paid may also have had something to do with it. )

After gaining three years experience in seismic reflection and refraction techniques in Pakistan and Nigeria, Paul achieved a reputation for sound technical innovation and solid dependability. This provided him an opportunity to join the newly formed well survey division, using the CVL (Magnolia) system, the first downhole sonic tool to be used in Europe. He worked here in both worldwide operations and in research, and published his first paper, "Some well-shoot problems in Libya," in the 1963 Proceedings of the First Saharan Symposium. At the 1963 EAEG convention he presented a nonpublished paper called "The well-geophone record in perspective," which (in those "pre-Galperin translation" days) elucidated the principles of VSP techniques.

In 1963 Paul joined SSL's main research group, headed by Nigel Anstey. Initially he worked on both seismic and nonseismic applications of the magnetic analog correlator (developed earlier by Bill Lerwill for vibroseis). However, this was close to the onset of the digital revolution, and for much of the next 10 years Paul was heavily involved in basic research in data processing and software development as well as teaching the new applications. His papers and presentations during this period include: "The sectional autocorrelogram and sectional retrocorrelogram," a joint paper with Anstey presented at the 1966 EAEG convention: "Ideal filter applications," 1967 EAEG convention: "Divergence effects in a layered earth," published in Geophysics, June 1973 and "Patterns with a pinch of salt," presented at both the 1972 EAEG convention and the SEG Annual Meeting in Anaheim and then published the following year in Geophysical Prospecting.

In 1973 Paul joined Seabrooke & Associates (now, after several reorganizations, Simon Petroleum Technology) as their R&D advisor, being responsible at first for developing a data processing capability and later for providing technical support and supervision of diverse seismic operations worldwide. Largely through Paul's influence, S&A was the first company in Europe to offer Watergun arrays. He became director of the company in 1981, and retired at the end of 1989.

During these 16 years Paul attended many geophysical conventions and meetings in the USA, Australia, India, China, Russia, and Europe, presenting papers and teaching courses on field acquisition techniques and data processing, all conducted with the insight, clarity and balanced argument that typify his style of presentation and his ability to provide a simplified yet uncompromised link between theory and practical application. His presentation at the 1975 EAEG convention, "Amplitude and phase properties of a digital migration process," provided means for recovering true relative seismic amplitudes through the migration process. It eventually led to his development of short-offset 3-D acquisition and processing techniques on which he spent much of his time in later years.

Everyone who has been charmed by Paul's quiet, unassuming manner and impressed by his sustained contributions to the development and wider understanding of the seismic process will be delighted to hear that SEG has awarded him Honorary Membership. We wish him well in all his future activities.


  1. 1995 SEG Annual Meeting, SEG Honors and Awards Program