Sally Zinke

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Sally Zinke
Sally Zinke headshot.gif
President year 2000
Membership Honorary Member

Sally G. Zinke is awarded Honorary Membership in recognition of her outstanding contributions and commitments to SEG and the geophysical community over 20-plus years. Sally has been a member of SEG since 1974. Sally was the first woman SEG President (2000-2001). She has also served as Secretary-Treasurer of SEG (1992–93), General Chairman of the 1995 Annual Meeting and President of the Denver Geophysical Society (1989). Sally continues to be active in the industry and the community.

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership 2009

Sally’s enthusiasm for the Society of Exploration Geophysicists started early as she founded the Student Section at Penn State University in 1975. It is easy to say, “Since 1975 Sally has been active on various SEG committees,” but that overlooks the intensity and passion with which Sally attacks life in general, and her deep involvement with the SEG, in particular. Here are the numbers: in 28 of the last 34 years, Sally has been not only an active member of an SEG committee, she has also been an editor, committee chairman, treasurer, secretary, vice president, and president (of both the SEG and the Denver Geophysical Society). Her leadership has provided SEG the proverbial “yellow brick road.”

First, let’s go back to the early Sally Zinke days. Sally’s passion for geophysics started at 13 when she attended her first geology class at Washington University. Later she received a BS (geology and geophysics) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MS (geophysics) from Penn State, and an MBA at the University of Denver. Sally joined Mobil in 1973 and supervised US geophysical activities for PanCanadian Petroleum from 1981 through 1988. In 1989, Sally traveled south to Austin, Texas, to join the Bureau of Economic Geology (University of Texas) to integrate geophysical technology for reservoir characterization. After a couple of years, Sally became a consultant in Denver and later connected with Ultra Petroleum Corporation, where she is currently director of exploration. With hundreds of wells drilled in the Pinedale Field in the Green River Basin of Wyoming, Sally is proud of her success, which is near that of Ivory soap—99 and 44/100% pure.

Although she has made many contributions to SEG, two in particular come to mind which illustrate Sally’s SEG leadership and tenacity. From 1993–1996, Sally chaired the Policy and Procedure (P&P) Manual Development Committee. The committee had to read the minutes from over 50 years of Executive Committee meetings, and then collate and update the policies, procedures, and protocol of our predecessors into a meaningful manual. This Herculean task required three grueling years to complete. Today’s P&P manual includes more than 350 pages. This prepared Sally to undertake her second outstanding leadership contribution to SEG. As SEG President in 2000–2001, Sally developed and published a Strategic Plan that has been a model, among other things, for our international programs. This well-conceived plan illustrates the diversity of opinions and priorities that had to be considered by Sally and her Executive Committee (Walt Lynn, Allen Bertagne, Yoram Shoham, Peter Annan, Richard Verm and Chris Liner). The P&P Manual and the Strategic Plan illustrate Sally’s devotion to the long-term success of the Society, and her willingness to expend the time and intense effort to make it happen.

A familiar face at SEG conventions is Sally’s daughter, Allyson, who, like her mother, has been interested in the physical sciences since an early age. Almost certainly, in the near future, SEG will benefit from a second generation of Zinke commitment.

Sally has paved the road that has made it a little easier for us to navigate to our SEG objectives and goals. For dozens of young and aspiring geoscientists, Sally’s mentoring has made the difference in their career choices. Beyond serving as SEG’s first and only woman president, she has truly surpassed the requirements set forth for Honorary Membership. We are proud to summarize a few distinguished contributions to SEG, to provide a few comments about her personal successes, and to be part of the event at which SEG bestows Honorary Membership on Sally Zinke.[1]

Biography for SEG President-Elect Candidacy

Sally G. Zinke, candidate for President-Elect, has been an active member of SEG for 25 years since founding the Student Section at Penn State University. She served as General Chairman for the 1996 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Denver. At age 13, Sally became interested in seismology at Washington University and planned to become a geophysicist. Dr. Sigmund Hammer sparked her interest in exploration geophysics.

Sally graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a B.S. in geology and geophysics, completed an M.S. in geophysics at Penn State and the University of Denver Executive M.B.A. program in finance. She joined Mobil in Denver in 1973 and held numerous technical and supervisory positions in exploration and production. In 1981, she was hired by PanCanadian Petroleum and supervised U.S. geophysical activities. In 1989, Sally joined the Bureau of Economic Geology/University of Texas to handle geophysical applications for several reservoir characterization and technology integration projects. Returning to Denver with Pacific Enterprises, she has been a geophysical consultant involved in U.S. and international projects for the past eight years. Her main interests are technology integration at reservoir level, high-resolution seismic, and reservoir characterization.

Sally served the SEG as Secretary-Treasurer on the 1992-93 Executive Committee, on the Finance Committee 1992-95, chairman of the Annual Meeting Advisory Committee 1996-97, Development and Production Committee, chairman of Policy and Procedures Manual Development 1993-96, chairman of the Professional Affairs Committee 1990-92, Constitution and Bylaws Committee 1989-92, vice-chairman Arrangements Committee for the 1983 Annual Meeting, and Planning Committee for the 1989 SEG Midwest Meeting. She is an active member of AAPG, EAGE, Denver Geophysical Society (past-president, vice-president, treasurer, and all-around volunteer), and the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists.[2]


  1. Peter M. Duncan (2010). ”Honors and Awards citations.” Honors and Awards citations, 29(4), 474-485.
  2. ”Nominations for 1999–2000 Executive Committee.” Nominations for 1999–2000 Executive Committee, 18(7), 831-841.

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