Robert Graebner

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Robert Graebner
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MSc university University of Colorado

Robert J. Graebner is a geophysicist whose contributions include internationally recognized work in the early advancement and promotion of 3D seismic, recent collaborations with the Bureau of Economic Geology in using vertical and horizontal shear modes for determining anisotropy in vertical fractures, and 23-plus years of distinguished leadership of SEG. The Society has previously honored him with Honorary Membership and Special Commendation, selection as a Distinguished Lecturer, and for authoring the Best Paper in GEOPHYSICS. He has also received Honorary Membership and the Distinguished Service Award from the Dallas Geophysical Society, and the Mines Medal from Colorado School of Mines. He has served SEG as President, first vice president, general chairman of the annual meeting, director of the SEG Foundation, and SEG Foundation Trustee Associate. Robert J. Graebner, long recognized throughout the world for his leadership to our profession and for his contributions to our science, is truly deserving of SEG’s highest award.

Biography Citation for the Maurice Ewing Medal 2005

Contributed by Marion Bone

Robert J. (Bob) Graebner is being honored for more than five decades of contributions to and leadership of the oil and gas profession. The awarding of the Maurice Ewing Medal by SEG further recognizes a career that has been exemplary from the beginning up to and including today and which has already been filled with distinguished honors.


His academic accomplishments include a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics (1948) and master’s degree in physics (1954) from the University of Colorado.

He has served in important leadership roles with the Dallas Geophysical Society, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and the SEG Foundation. These roles included terms as president of the Dallas Geophysical Society (1979-1980), as SEG first vice president (1982-83) and president (1986-1987), and subsequently election as a director of the SEG Foundation.


His professional publications include a 1960 case history in GEOPHYSICS on the timeless subject of “Seismic data enhancement.” Subsequent technical papers ushered 3D seismic technology into routine use in the field development phase of the industry. The most famous of these was the 1982 case history “Field development with three-dimensional seismic methods in the Gulf of Thailand” which earned the Best Paper in GEOPHYSICS award for Bob and co-author C. G. Dahm. He also received an outstanding paper honor for a presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference in 1979. His later publications and presentations on 3D shear wave and 4D technologies have pushed the technology further into the production and reservoir monitoring phases. He was also one of the editors of SEG’s 2001 reprint volume on 3D Seismic Exploration.

Honors and Awards

Bob’s contributions to the profession have been recognized by academia with awards from Colorado School of Mines (The Mines Medal in 1992) and the University of Colorado (The Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award in 1997). A perhaps unique honor was the dedication of Volume 82/5B of the AAPG Bulletin (May 1998) to Bob for his support in developing an industrial research consortium at the University of Colorado. Many appointments to advisory boards and special committees at universities have continued to occupy his schedule during the years that most would be enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

His awards from professional societies include Honorary Membership (1984) and The Distinguished Service Award (1990) from the Dallas Geophysical Society, Honorary Membership in SEG (1995) and Special Commendation (1997) from SEG for commercializing 3D technology. He also received The Energy Award from the Executive Oil Show and Conference in 1996 for development of 3D technology. He was selected to be an SEG Distinguished Lecturer in 1993 and enshrined in the Offshore Hall Of Fame as a Technology Pioneer in 2005. Bob’s technical career includes hundreds of presentations made to audiences in every major oil- and gas-producing country in the world. His list of technical achievements and associated professional accomplishments is numerous.

Industrial Career

His career in the industry included four decades at Geophysical Service Incorporated and the successful electronics firm that it spawned, Texas Instruments. He held many key technical and management positions, including vice president of TI. He retired from Halliburton Geophysical in 1993 and he has continued his work with the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin. Although the above information satisfies one’s curiosity of his technical abilities, it doesn’t necessarily reflect his other personal characteristics, which are provided by family members, personal and business friends, and individuals who have worked with and for him. These can be summed up by industry-wide recognition of his professional integrity, concern for individuals, and leadership qualities.

Many young professionals who have come into contact with him early in their careers will confirm the influence he had on their successes. Some older ones will tell you of his continued yearning for knowledge and about the measures he takes to stay current with what is on the forefront of technology. Bob well deserves this prestigious award, and history will testify to his accomplishments.

SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award 1982

C. G. Dahm and Robert J. Graebner received the 1982 SEG Best Paper in Geophysics Award for their paper Field development with three-dimensional seismic methods in the Gulf of Thailand: A case history[1]


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Robert Graebner
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