Tapan Mukerji

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Tapan Mukerji
Tapan Mukerji headshot.png
PhD university Stanford Unviersity

Tapan Mukerji was honored with the J. Clarence Karcher Award for his many insights and advances in characterizing reservoirs through multidisciplinary application of rock physics, wave propagation theory, and geostatistics. Tapan’s research is providing exploration geophysicists with a fundamental understanding of how seismic images are affected at various frequencies and scales by the heterogeneous nature of fluid-filled rocks.

Biography Citation for the J. Clarence Karcher Award 2000

Contributed by Gary Mavko

A most exciting part of life at a university is experiencing the steady flow of talented young people. They constantly bring new ideas, question old habits, and appear to have limitless energy to throw at important problems. I was very lucky, back in 1989, that one of those young stars appearing at my office at Stanford University was Tapan Mukerji.

Tapan, my first graduate student, completed his PhD in 1995. In his dissertation, Tapan made enormous contributions, both theoretical and practical, in a number of rock physics areas: frequency-dependent pore fluid effects on seismic velocities, wave propagation in heterogeneous media, and anisotropy. Fortunately for us, Tapan stayed on as a research associate in the Rock Physics Laboratory and continues to have an enormous research and teaching impact in rock physics, geostatistics, reservoir engineering, and wave propagation.

Tapan has a unique ability to understand, implement, and improve theories from diverse fields to come up with elegant solutions to complex problems. His publications, a long list for someone his age, have been cited widely. Our paper on a rock physics strategy for quantifying uncertainty in fluid detection was deemed an outstanding contribution by SEG. This work has opened new ways of quantifying the value of additional measurements, and assessing uncertainty and risks in quantitative interpretation of seismic attributes for reservoir characterization.

The work that Tapan coauthored on wave propagation in stochastic media with anisotropic spatial correlation was awarded honorable mention in the best poster category; his work (with me) on bounds for low-frequency velocities in partially saturated rocks received honorable mention for Best Paper in GEOPHYSICS. In all these, Tapan brought a distinct and powerful cross-disciplinary knowledge that led to richer and more fruitful results than could be possible within separate areas of specialization. Many of Tapan’s publications in rock physics were selected for SEG’s recent reprint volumes on Seismic and Acoustic Velocities in Reservoir Rocks. Tapan’s work, with colleagues in geostatistics, has led to spectral methods for quantifying the impact of the seismic image response function on geostatistical kriging and stochastic simulation, leading to more rational techniques for integrating data measured at different spectral bandwidths. A number of Tapan’s current projects focus on applying methods of derived distributions and Monte Carlo techniques to express existing and new rock physics results in a probabilistic form. His formulation of “statistical rock physics” has been successfully applied to quantitatively classify reservoir lithologies and pore fluids using near- and far-offset seismic attributes. Tapan is a gifted teacher and communicator. The Rock Physics Project has benefited greatly from his ability to illuminate and explain difficult scientific problems.

Tapan has great talent for advising, teaching, and mentoring young scientists. In our group, he is the most sought out by students and postdocs for advice on everything from geophysics, math, physics, geostatistics, and computer science, to choice of courses to take, good writing, proposal preparation, effective oral presentations, and passing oral examinations. His courses are attended by students, in addition to those from earth sciences, from engineering, mathematics, and biological sciences. The Rock Physics Handbook, which Tapan co-authored with Jack Dvorkin and me, reflects his broad and deep insight of rock physics and wave propagation.

Tapan Mukerji has been and continues to be an essential part of the leading edge of geophysical research. I think it is fitting that SEG has recognized him with the Karcher award, and I look forward to his future contributions.

Honorable Mention (Geophysics) 1998

Gerald (Gary) M. Mavko and Tapan Mukerji received 1998 Honorable Mention (Geophysics) for their paper Bounds on low-frequency seismic velocities in partially saturated rocks.[1]


  1. Mavko, G. M. and T. Mukerji (1998) Bounds on low-frequency seismic velocities in partially saturated rocks, GEOPHYSICS 63(3):91.