Robert Van Nostrand

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Robert Van Nostrand
Robert van Nostrand headshot.png
President year  
Membership  Honorary Member
PhD university  



Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Isidore Zietz


It is altogether fitting that the name of Robert Van Nostrand be added to those select few who have received the Society's cherished award of Honorary Membership. Van has had a long and active career in exploration geophysics that spans a period of more than forty years. During that time he served exploration geophysics in every form and discipline imaginable, theoretical and applied, research scientist and manager, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Van received his B.S. in physics in 1942 from the Missouri School of Mines. It was here that he met Frank Farnham, a distinguished geophysicist who had a strong influence in Van's academic and professional career. On his advice, Van had taken enough courses in math, physics, geology, and chemistry to have graduated with a major in any of the above. In 1949, he received his M.S. in physics and in 1953 obtained his Ph.D., again in physics at the University of North Carolina.

His professional career started with the Geological Survey of Missouri where, together with Frank Farnham, he produced the first gravity map of the State of Missouri. In his early years, he taught physics and geophysics at the Missouri School of Mines and worked part time with the USGS on field projects and theoretical studies. He spent much of his time with the USGS working on electrical methods, one of his more important publications being "lnterpretation of Resistivity Data," USGS Professional Paper No. 499.

From 1952 to 1956, Dr. Van Nostrand was employed as senior research geophysicist by the Field Research Laboratories of the Socony Mobil Oil Company where he improvised and evaluated electromagnetic reflection prospecting systems and conducted seismic attenuation research studies. He demonstrated his capability, ingenuity, and resourcefulness on an assignment to make an electromagnetic survey of the Athabasca Tar Sands. Upon arrival on the prospect site he discovered that no provision had been made for a resistivity survey which was to have been complementary to his electromagnetic survey. Rather than doing without it, he cleverly designed and constructed a resistivity logging tool and completed the survey. During his last year at Mobil, he served as geophysical supervisor for Mobil Oil Francaise in Paris. During the same time span, he gave a series of 12 lectures (in French) to Mobil personnel in France on what their labs were doing. From 1957 to 1961, Van was chief geophysicist for PREPA, a French oil company with interests in Europe, North America, and Madagascar and then became general manager of Exploration Geophysique Rogers, a subsidiary of Rogers Geophysical Company with field crews in France, Spain, and North Africa.

Since 1962, Robert Van Nostrand has been employed in a managerial capacity with Teledyne Geotech. As vice-president, since 1970, he has been responsible for the Government Systems Division in Garland, Texas and the Alexandria Laboratories Division in Alexandria, Virginia.

Among his activities are the initiation of government contracts concerned with the interpretation of seismic data for the purpose of distinguishing between earthquakes and man-made explosives. He is currently involved in "real time" processing, i.e., the processing of data instantaneously as it is collected.

Dr. Van Nostrand has served the geophysical community above and beyond the call of duty. He has served on several committees of the SEG and as Associate Editor and Editor of Geophysics. He is a sponsoring editor of Geoexploration Monographs and is the only American on the editorial staff of the European publishing organization Geopublication Associates. Van has probably had more contact and liaison with European geophysicists in technical matters than most American geophysicists.

I am confident that all of Van's friends join me in congratulating him and support his selection for this distinguished award of Honorary Membership in the SEG.