Richard Jolly

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Richard Jolly
Richard N. Jolly new headshot.png

Biography Citation for the Reginald Fessenden Award

Contributed by J. Dan Skelton


Richard (Dick) N. Jolly has spent a lifetime in pioneering research, preparing the way for many of our modern seismic prospecting methods. A most recent example is the extensive use of Vertical Seismic Profiling (VSP) for detailed exploration around a borehole. It is thus most appropriate that Jolly be awarded the SEG Reginald Fessenden Award for

". . . his pioneering work related to Vertical Seismic Profiling. The committee believes that his paper in Geophysics, Vol. 18, No. 3, July 1953, entitled 'Deep-Hole Geophone Study in Garvin County, Oklahoma,' was the forerunner to today's VSP technology."

Honors and Awards Committee

Dick has also conducted other pioneering seismic wave propagation research which has been the forerunner for other new seismic methods such as shear wave and CDP techniques.

Dick began his outstanding career when he joined the Carter Oil Company (Exxon) research laboratory in 1940 after receiving a B.A. in Physics/Math from the University of Texas. A year later, just before Pearl Harbor, he joined a Carter seismic crew in Sumatra, but fled that country during the Japanese invasion. Dick's geophysical career was interrupted by wartime service in the U.S. Air Corps as a weather officer in India and Burma.

After World War II he returned to the Carter lab and worked with a research crew supporting Norman H. Ricker's landmark wavelet studies for which Ricker received this same award in 1977. In the early 1950s Dick carried out the early deep hole geophone studies that are the subject of the citation and paper noted above.

Although the equipment and processing techniques used were primitive, he was able to track and measure down traveling pulses and returning reflections tying them to surface spreads. Similar studies using dual lock-in geophones and calibrated amplifiers were made in a variety of areas. (This work was augmented by additional studies by Franklyn Levin, corecipient of this award.)

Dick also made extensive early field studies of shear waves, resulting in a Geophysics paper which won the Best Paper Award in 1956. Using a specially designed water gun, he made down-hole measurements of vertical (SV) and horizontal (SH) shear waves using lock-in geophones. This amounted to a shear-compressional VSP and resulted in the discovery of an unexpectedly large SH wave anisotropy and substantial differences in SH and SV velocity behavior. Dick was probably the first geophysicist to record SH reflections from the subsurface.

In the late 1950s Dick conducted studies of CDP recording concurrently, it turned out, with similar investigations in other companies. He carried out worldwide CDP evaluations, giving Exxon an early advantageous position with this revolutionary new method. Dick received a patent for an off-end CDP field technique and coined the acronym "CDP" which by circulating through Exxon contract crews became the accepted industry term.

Later he continued his studies of seismic signals and noise using cemented deep hole geophones to precisely measure seismic waveforms. These experiments enhanced our understanding of waveform and amplitude dependence on charge size and depth. He also clarified our knowledge of seismic noises. Results of this work were published in Geophysics (1971) and presented to the Annual Meeting and to many local Sections.

In recent years Dick has shifted emphasis to data improvement using digital processing techniques, examples of which are coherence emphasis by controlled mixing and various automatic static corrections using first arrivals.

In his some forty years of pioneering seismic research, Dick has uncovered numerous concepts leading the way to significant new seismic exploration techniques. It is therefore most fitting that this seismic research pioneer be given this high award.