Thomas Fulton

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Thomas Fulton
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Thomas K. Fulton (20 December 1930 - 7 August 2009) was a well known and well respected geophysicist who, in his long career worked for GSI, Amoco, King Resources, Gulf, Chevron, and Seismic Solutions, his own seismic processing firm. Tom was a member of the Geophysical Society of Houston and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. In his later years he was interested in promoting science education and historic preservation of geophysical instrumentation and culture.[1]

Memorial [2]

Tom Fulton passed away on 7 August 2009 after a brief illness. He was a well known and respected geophysicist who began his career after receiving a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of North Texas in 1951. Following seismic work in Venezuela, he completed a master’s in 1955. His professional experience spanned technology changes from eight-trace split-spread marine paper records to digital processing and finally to 3D processing quality control. His employers include GSI, Amoco, King Resources, Gulf, and Chevron. Tom also started Seismic Solutions, Inc. to provide seismic processing services to the industry. Contributions to technology include the “offset panel” display which pointed the way to an interpretive solution of large long-wavelength statics, gave insight into AVO, and aided in the identification of shallow gas hazards. Tom was a 55-year member of SEG and was honored with an SEG Special Commendation Award in 2006. His service to SEG included membership on the Technical Standards Committee (Polarity), Program Chairman for the Second Annual Gulf Coast Meeting, and Chairman and longtime member of the SEG Technical Program Committee of the Offshore Technology Conference. Tom was also the principal organizer of the Living Legends event at the SEG Annual Meeting. Tom, a member of the Geophysical Society of Houston since 1972, served GSH as Luncheon Speakers Coordinator, Chairperson of the Data Processing Special Interest Group, 2nd Vice President, and (in 1993) President. He served as President of the Southeastern Geophysical Society in New Orleans in 1986. Tom was honored by the GSH with Honorary and Life Memberships. He was a longtime champion of the GSH Museum and recently chaired the Museum Committee. Tom was also instrumental in starting the Houston Geoscience Day, an annual event focused on education for employees new to the exploration industry. Tom most enjoyed seeing the professional progress of the many he mentored through more than 60 years, and he was a constant source of inspiration to those who worked with him. His wisdom, energy, guidance, and friendliness will be truly missed. Tom was a unique, warm, and caring person, with a joyful, positive spirit, who always said “not to worry,” and greeted all with “a cheery good day.” He was loved by all those who knew him and his spirit of love will be carried on by his cherished wife Emilie, his family, his church, and his worldwide circle of friends. He was truly a gentleman and a gentle man.

Special Commendation 2006

SEG is honoring a group of individuals—L. C. (Lee) Lawyer, Rhonda Boone, Michael Golding, Thomas Fulton, and D. G. (Gene) Womack— with Special Commendation for their service to our profession, our Society, and the public in their roles as volunteers in development of programs associated with SEG’s 75th Anniversary celebration in 2005. This award is made in recognition of the efforts of a committee chaired by Lee Lawyer, which undertook the design and execution of a one-year celebration that included section involvement, a luncheon on 11 March in Houston at a site near where SEG was founded exactly 75 years earlier, a special publication containing articles emphasizing the history of exploration geophysics and SEG, articles in TLE detailing the history of the profession decade by decade, and a DVD portraying the history of the profession and of SEG. The individuals accepting this award represent the leaders of the efforts, but they do not stand alone. They symbolize the hard work of a large number of very dedicated SEG members and other volunteers who have provided a living collection of our history, accomplishments, and character.

Citation for SEG Special Commendation

SEG’s 75th Anniversary in 2005 was marked by numerous events, publications, and parties. A global celebration of this magnitude does not just happen; it must be designed, promoted, and executed. This very successful year-long celebration was led by the 75th Anniversary Celebration Committee.

Lee Lawyer chaired the committee for the 75th Anniversary for both SEG and the 2005 Annual Meeting. He assembled a committee of Gary Servos, John Sumner, Tom Fulton, David Yarnell, Shane Coperude,Asra Tutuncu, Peter Duncan, Scott Singleton, Matt Ross, Roy Clark, and Fred Aminzadeh to support the effort. The SEG Business Office staff provided assistance for this worthy cause.

The committee strove to engage all SEG constituencies in order to make the year special. Exploration and production companies, service companies, and member sections around the world were encouraged to find a way to recognize SEG throughout the year. Some posted congratulatory notes in their advertisements; others wore colorful pins noting the 75th Anniversary. Celebrations around the globe included guest lectures and birthday cakes throughout the year, often highlighted with pictures and stories in subsequent issues of THE LEADING EDGE. One remarkable celebration, a recreation of the founding meeting, was held in Houston on March 11, SEG’s birthday. The event was sponsored by the Geophysical Society of Houston.

Dean Clark and the TLE staff supported the celebration with a series of articles in successive TLE issues, each covering a decade of the growth and development of SEG. Complementing this series, a special publication appeared before the 2005 convention containing articles and a graphic time line emphasizing the history of exploration geophysics and SEG.

Further, a DVD, titled “Reflections in the Field,” was distributed at the 2005 Annual Meeting. Commissioned by SEG as a part of the 75th Anniversary celebration, the video portrays the history and development of the profession. Extensive interviews with prominent geophysicists and energy experts from around the world showed the global influence of geophysics. The DVD also included a copy of a previous SEG video “Seeing the Unseen” and all profiles published in THE LEADING EDGE.

At the 2005 Annual Meeting in November, in Houston, celebrations were brought to a fitting climax. The exhibit floor included a 900 square foot exhibit with artifacts and exhibits provided by the Geophysical Society of Houston and the SEG Foundation GeoScience Center in Tulsa. Geophysical instrumentation from the 1920s through today was displayed at the exhibit, which was staffed by a large group of volunteers, many of whom are retired and had not been to a recent annual meeting. Kiosks prominently placed around the exhibit floor showed pictures and equipment for each decade of SEG’s past. Many exhibitors added to the spirit by displaying historical artifacts in their booths. The festivities culminated in a birthday celebration at the Wednesday night gala.

The year’s festivities were a large success. This commendation serves to recognize the following individuals for their service to our profession, our Society, and the public in their roles as volunteers in development of programs associated with the SEG 75th Anniversary: Lee Lawyer for his leadership, Tom Fulton and Gene Womack for organizing the special historical displays at the convention, and Rhonda Boone and Michael Golding for successfully shepherding the DVD production.


  1. Thomas K. Fulton Obituary, Houston Chronicle[1]]
  2. Northwood, J., Jr., Gafford, B., and Stringer, H. (2010). ”Memorials.” The Leading Edge, 29(1), 108–108