Peter Annan

From SEG Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Peter Annan
Peter Annan 2014 headshot.png
Latest company Sensors & Software
Membership Honorary Membership


Peter Annan is a geophysicist noted for his work in ground penetrating radar (GPR). He is an Honorary Member of SEG, and a 2006 recipient of the Cecil Green Enterprise Award with David Leggatt, Steven Cosway, and Lowry Chua as a co-founder of Sensors & Software.


Biography for SEG Presidential Candidacy 2014 [1]

Peter Annan’s background is in engineering science with a PhD in geophysics. His scientific interests have focused primarily on applied electromagnetics (EM). Major technical contributions include pioneering development of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and advancement of airborne EM technology. His geophysical employment started with conducting surveys in northern Canada, followed by stints as research scientist at the Geological Survey of Canada, chief geophysicist at Barringer Research, and senior engineering geophysicist with Golder Associates. Involvement with many infrastructure-related projects led to Annan’s continuing interest in engineering geophysics. Annan founded A-Cubed Inc. in 1981 to focus on development of new airborne EM and GPR systems. EM developments spawned several commercial AEM systems still flying today. GPR developments were commercialized with the founding of Sensors and Software Inc., now a world-recognized supplier of GPR instruments, of which Annan is CEO. Parallel commercialization initiatives created multiVIEW, a business that now delivers urban engineering geophysical services.

During more than 40 years of SEG membership, Annan’s formal SEG activities include Mining Committee Chair, Near-Surface Geophysics Section (NSGS) newsletter editor, NSGS president, Continuing Education lecturer on GPR, Second Vice President, and most recently, serving as Director at large and chairing the Audit Committee and the Committee on Nominations. Annan’s SEG honors include Honorary Membership and the Cecil Green Enterprise Award. Other recognitions are the NSGS Hal Mooney Award for scientific and technical excellence and innovation, the Engineering and Environmental Geophysics Society’s Frank Frischknecht Leadership Award, and NSGS Honorary Membership.


Position Statement

As a passionate SEG advocate, I view SEG as my technical home and a source of both inspiring personal relationships and innovative ideas. The SEG Board provides members with their voice in shaping the Society’s direction, and I would be committed to:

  • enhancing and communicating the value of SEG membership to attract and retain the geophysicists of tomorrow
  • working to further recognition of SEG as the international society of applied geophysics
  • enhancing collaboration with societies that have complementary missions and with our affiliated societies and sections to enhance

our global footprint and delivery of SEG member benefits

  • further investing in modern electronic communications and outreach systems, enabling our members to access our programs and resources from anywhere
  • ensuring the recognition and advancement of the Near-Surface community within SEG
  • continuing the improvement in financial management and good governance of our Society
"Peter Annan, 2006"

Cecil Green Enterprise Award 2006

SEG is honoring Peter Annan, David Leggatt, Steven Cosway, and Lowry Chua with the Cecil Green Enterprise Award for founding Sensors & Software, Inc. in 1988. The company was established to commercialize the ground-penetrating radar technology developed by A-Cubed, a research and development entity. With no outside funding and no salaries for the initial year, the four founders worked together to launch Sensors & Software. Today the company employs 50 people, has products working in 80-90 countries around the world, has a 30-40% market share globally for GPR equipment, and US$5-7 million in annual revenue.

Biography Citation for the Cecil Green Enterprise Award

When Peter Annan, Lowry Chua, Steve Cosway, and David Leggatt organized Sensors and Software in 1988, commercial versions of ground-penetrating radar had been in existence for roughly 14 years and had been used successfully in many parts of the world to solve a vast array of geologic and engineering problems. While GPR was a useful geophysical tool, the founders of Sensors & Software realized current versions of ground-penetrating radar instruments limited its use for many applications. The antennas were too heavy to easily survey ceilings and walls for example. The transmitter and receiver were analog, and data were recorded on a strip chart. While the strip chart speed was constant, the survey speed was not; thus, the tie between data and ground location was at best imperfect. Event markers on the strip chart were adequate for many surveys, but in some cases variation in ground speed made the data difficult to use. The paper record of a 100-ft interval going up an icy slope might be 10-ft long, but the same distance going down the slope might result in a paper record 2-ft long. Because the GPR data were not recorded in a digital format, it was not possible to enhance the data with processing technology developed by the seismic industry.

The founders of Sensors and Software believed that, in order to improve data quality and to expand the applications of GPR data, at least some of these problems needed to be resolved. Drawing on their field experience with radar surveys and the electromagnetic instrumentation technology developed for their predecessor company (A-Cubed), they set about developing an all-digital GPR system. Antennas were bistatic and light weight. Data were taken at discrete increments and could be recorded digitally on a variety of media. The digital data could be tied to a specific location along a line which made it possible to plot scaled profiles of data for better interpretation. It also made it possible to use the processing technology developed in the seismic industry, such as stacking to enhance signal-to-noise ratio, filtering to remove noise, 3D imaging, and much more.

Over the past 18 years, Sensors & Software has grown from four people working on a shoestring to a staff of 50- plus supporting customers in more than 80 countries. The growth was the result of several factors which included: better instruments that resulted in better data at greater depths; software that simplified field operation so that almost anyone could use the equipment and also provided rapid on-site results and interpretation; and instruments and software for specific applications, for example concrete imaging. However, the factor that may have contributed the most to the growth of the company has been the training, in workshops lasting 1-3 days, of hundreds of engineers, geologists, and geophysicists on the use and application of GPR. These workshops, conducted throughout the world, include the basic principals of GPR, GPR instrumentation, data analysis, and much more. While the workshops undoubtedly helped Sensors & Software grow, they also helped grow the intelligent use of GPR and thus the entire GPR industry benefited.

Position Statement

As a passionate SEG advocate, I view SEG as my technical home and a source of both inspiring personal relationships and innovative ideas. The SEG Board provides members with their voice in shaping the Society’s direction, and I would be committed to:

  • enhancing and communicating the value of SEG membership to

attract and retain the geophysicists of tomorrow

  • working to further recognition of SEG as the international soci-

ety of applied geophysics

  • enhancing collaboration with societies that have complementary

missions and with our affiliated societies and sections to enhance our global footprint and delivery of SEG member benefits

  • further investing in modern electronic communications and out-

reach systems, enabling our members to access our programs and resources from anywhere

  • ensuring the recognition and advancement of the Near-Surface

community within SEG

  • continuing the improvement in financial management and good

governance of our Society


SEG Honorary Membership 2000

P eter Annan was awarded Honorary Membership for his development of ground penetrating radar into a significant technology in exploration geophysics. Peter’s early analytic work was the basis for the radio frequency electromagnetic sounding experiment carried to the moon on Apollo 17. From that start, Peter has become the profession’s leading expert on ground penetrating radar. He not only emphasizes correct usage based on a proper physical understanding of electromagnetic wave propagation, but also carefully defines the practical application of GPR given the constraints of the real earth. His generous sharing of GPR technology with colleagues and his business skill at commercializing GPR instrumentation and processing software have been exceptionally beneficial to near-surface geophysicists in such diverse specialties as environmental assessment, forensics, glaciology, ground water studies, permafrost mapping, engineering evaluations, and land mine detection.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Les Davis and David Redman


Peter is a leader and mentor in many varied aspects of his business and academic pursuits. This leadership was obvious in his graduate years at the University of Toronto where he was active in the lunar Surface Electrical Properties (SEP) experiment on the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. He helped develop the well-known PLATE program for geophysical electromagnetic response modeling as part of his PhD program at Memorial University. Many fellow students continue to comment on how Peter helped them with their graduate projects.

Peter was introduced to ground penetrating radar (GPR), then in its infancy, at the Geological Survey of Canada in 1974. It was here, as a research scientist, that he gained valuable experience with many varied aspects of GPR. His strong geophysical training permitted him to go beyond standard survey techniques. He carried out advanced survey methods like velocity and transillumination soundings with the more than 250-kg user-unfriendly equipment of the day. Peter has the exceptional ability to attack whatever problem is before him from first principles, a necessity when pioneering a new technology. His theoretical and practical savvy was evident early in his GPR career. After holding bulky antennas weighing 30 kg against the walls in the 35°C heat of three potash mines in Saskatchewan for a few days, Peter realized that this was totally impractical. Over the weekend in the field, he helped to develop and construct new antennas that weighed 5 kg. These were easily manageable, relatively small, and performed better than the originals. He has developed particular expertise in antennas that radiate wide bandwidth pulses.

Peter commenced his entrepreneurial career in 1981 with the founding of A-Cubed, a contract R&D company, which spawned the GEOTEM and PROSPECT/SPECTRUM digital airborne electromagnetic (AEM) survey systems and the digital pulseEKKO GPR systems. These developments led to his founding in 1988 of two companies: Sensors & Software, which specializes in development, manufacture, and sale of GPR instrumentation, and multiVIEW Geoservices, which specializes in high-resolution engineering and environmental geophysical services. He is currently advancing many scientific and business areas. He is president of Sensors & Software and multiVIEW Geoservices, research professor at the University of Waterloo, and research director for GEOTEM AEM developments with Geoterrex-Dighem. His research interests include development of GPR systems that are practical for a wide range of applications as well as improving digital AEM systems. It is interesting to note how his skill at commercializing geophysical instrumentation has led the field. Early in the 1980s he had the foresight to pioneer development of digital GPR and airborne systems. This has led to significant improvement of system performance and permitted sophisticated data processing capabilities. He is instrumental in developing not only high quality, user-friendly instrumentation but also in the proper usage of GPR, based on a clear understanding of electromagnetic wave propagation theory and a fundamental sense for what is practical in the field.

Peter has a special gift in being able to describe complex concepts in an easily understandable fashion. His publications and short courses are standards for all professionals, not only those beginning to use GPR but also those experts staying current in the use of GPR. He also has a well-deserved reputation for sharing his expertise and equipment with those in other fields who desperately need the technology but have limited financial means.

We join Peter’s many friends in congratulating him on this recognition from his peers and wish him all the best success in his future endeavors.



Biography for SEG Second Vice-President

Peter Annan obtained a bachelor’s degree (1968) and master’s (1970) from the University of Toronto and his doctorate (1974) from Memorial University. His master’s work led to the lunar Surface Electrical Properties (SEP) experiment on Apollo 17 in 1972; his doctorate research spawned the PLATE program for electromagnetic response modeling.

During his early career, Peter was a research scientist at the University of Toronto and the Geological Survey of Canada, chief geophysicist at Barringer Research, and the senior engineering geophysicist at Golder Associates. During this time, he extended SEP’s radio frequency sounding via GPR, pioneered the use of RF methods for soil water content measurement, and initiated development of digital airborne electromagnetic instrumentation.

In 1981, Peter founded A-Cubed which spawned the GEOTEM and PROSPECT/SPECTREM AEM systems and the pulseEKKO GPR systems. In 1988, A-Cubed developments led to the founding of Sensors & Software (which develops, manufactures, and sells GPR instrumentation) and multiVIEW Geoservices (which performs high-resolution engineering and environmental geophysics). Peter is active in many scientific and business areas. He is president of Sensors & Software and multiVIEW Geoservices, research professor at the University of Waterloo, and research director for GEOTEM AEM developments with Geoterrex-Dighem. His research includes development for and application of GPR and AEM. He has authored numerous scientific publications and technical reports and served on several government and professional scientific boards. Peter joined SEG in 1969. He has chaired the Mining Committee. He helped start the NearSurface Geophysics Section, edited its newsletter Near Surface Views(1994-96), and was NSG president in 1997.

In 1996 he received the Hal Mooney Award for scientific and technical excellence and innovation in the NSG field. Peter is a member of the Continuing Education Committee and teaches the course “Uses and Applications of GPR.”



Position Statement

All professionals must take the pursuit of excellence in their field as an implicit responsibility. Encouraging technical advancement and communication among members of the profession forms a major component. Since becoming a member 30 years ago, SEG has been the forum that I turn to first to fulfill this need as a professional applied geophysicist. Through its high-quality technical meetings, publications, and member communications, SEG provides a global focus and conveys the need for high standards of technical performance.

SEG has always been open to all aspects of applied geophysics. Most of my professional work has been in mining, engineering, and groundwater—fields that are small, both in physical and economic scale, compared to the petroleum sector. Despite the disparity in size of constituencies, SEG has provided a forum for all. My reasons for accepting nomination for the SEG Executive Committee reflect my position about what SEG should be and do in the future. First I hope to contribute to maintaining SEG’s high technical standards and to communicate these through support of our Continuing Education program and sponsorship of professional meetings. Second, I will provide

a voice on the Executive Committee for the near-surface geophysics and mining communities
  1. Board of Directors Nominations THE LEADING EDGE Jul 2014, Vol. 33, No. 7, p,806.