William Pearson

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William Pearson
William Pearson headshot.jpg
BSc Geophysical Engineering
PhD Oceanography
BSc university Colorado School of Mines
PhD university University of Washington

SEG Special Commendation 2014

It is fitting as we meet in Denver that we honor the founders and continued sustainers of the annual Denver Geophysical Society and Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists 3D Symposium.[1] This 20-year-old event, launched by William Pearson and R. Randy Ray, now attracts more than 600 participants from the United States and Canada. It provides an opportunity for cosponsorship with AAPG and encourages student participation by including the SEG regional Challenge Bowl on its agenda.

Biography Citation for SEG Special Commendation 2014

Contributed by James Applegate

Bill Pearson graduated from Colorado School of Mines in 1970 with a B.S. degree in geophysical engineering. He began his career in exploration as a field geologist and mining engineer in the coal-mining industry in Alaska and New Mexico.

After one year in the field, Bill decided to go to graduate school at the University of Washington to study the fast-evolving field of plate tectonics. He was instrumental in building seismic-reflection and seismic-refraction equipment and heat-flow probes for deepwater exploration. He developed code for processing, modeling, and interpreting seismic, gravity, magnetic, and heat-flow data acquired on his many cruises.

Bill rejoined SEG in 1972 and presented his dissertation research at the 1975 Houston OTC. After earning a Ph.D. in oceanography, he joined Amoco as a geophysicist and divided his time between research and exploration.

After a short career at Amoco, Bill left to become a consultant and has combined his efforts in coding, performing research, teaching industry courses, consulting, and exploring for oil and gas. He has been an active member of SEG, Denver Geophysical Society, AAPG, Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists, and GSA. He served eight years on the SEG Scholarship Committee and one year as Second Vice President of SEG and has been on Technical Committees at SEG international conventions. He also has been as an officer in the DGS and RMAG Denver Societies.

While serving as the DGS Continuing Education Committee chairman, Bill joined forces with Randy Ray to host a Rocky Mountain Symposium to accompany a 3D seismic guidebook that was being published by RMAG. This joint DGS-RMAG symposium was a follow-up to a very successful but much smaller DGS 3D symposium organized by a small group of DGS members including Sally Zinke, Stuart Wright, Walter Johnson, Vaughn Goebel, and me in 1994.

The 1995 3D Seismic Symposium attracted more than 500 explorationists and kicked off an annual event that has helped to share 3D seismic technology and exploration results for 20 consecutive years to well over 10,000 participants. Bill and Randy’s efforts in cochairing this event for the first 15 years while collaborating with the hardworking volunteer committees and professional staff of the DGS and RMAG have made this a premier annual event. Undoubtedly, Randy and Bill have approached hundreds of Rocky Mountain explorationists who knew full well they would be asked to present their latest 3D survey, technology, and results at the next 3D symposium. If the potential speakers or their companies declined, they were asked, “How about next year?”

In 2009 and 2010, Bill teamed up with me to cochair the Innovative Geoscience Technologies Symposium hosted by DGS in Denver. These symposiums were attended by about 100 explorationists. They incorporated nonseismic technologies such as gravity, magnetics, remote sensing, petrophysics, geothermal, geochemistry, and electromagnetics to complement the seismic and geologic approaches to exploration.

Bill is a dedicated family man with a wife of 40 years, four children, and four grandchildren. He is an avid outdoorsman, with family time dedicated to hiking, fishing, skiing, scuba diving, golfing, biking, and cruising (old oceanographers, even those living a mile high, can’t get the seawater out of their veins). Rather than considering retirement, Bill successfully works with geophysical, geologic, and landman talent to form or join oil companies to explore, lease, shoot, and drill prospects. Three-dimensional seismic data are incorporated whenever possible.


  1. SEG Honors and Awards Ceremony in Official Program and Exhibitors Directory, SEG Denver 26-31 October 2014 p.36-49.

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