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Houston persists as major center for applied geophysics:

SEG meeting provides platform for innovation, information exchange

A science key to Houston’s economic growth will advance further October 25-30 as the Society of Exploration Geophysicsts (SEG) holds its International Exhibition and 79th Annual Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center. More than 8,000 attendees representing more than 60 countries are expected for this major exchange of information related to geophysics as it is applied to oil and gas exploration and production, water resources, mining, engineering, and environmental problems.

Consider some of the reasons, historical and present-day, that make this event important to Houston:

· SEG was founded in Houston in 1930 because the city had by far the largest concentration of expertise in petroleum-oriented geophysics, a distinction it has never lost. Much of the phenomenal growth in geophysical applications is due to innovations conceived in Houston.

A high percentage of the world’s geophysical data processing and interpretation activity is performed in Houston because that is where most multinational oil companies are headquartered. The technological sophistication of Houston’s geophysicists, their instrumentation, and the amount of data they handle is staggering. A typical marine geophysical survey will have six or more boat-towed cables of up to 5 miles in length, recording data every few seconds on hundreds of receivers. This adds up to billions of data points on millions of seismic traces, all of which must run through several iterations of computer algorithms before the survey is ready to be interpreted and “drill” or “no drill” decisions are made.

· This year’s SEG annual meeting will be the 10th the Society has held in Houston, including the fourth time in 14 years. Each of the past four meetings has drawn more than 9,000 attendees. Advance registration for this year’s meeting has drawn delegates from more than 60 countries.

· In these challenging economic times, the SEG convention is one of only a handful of events that is growing. SEG, in fact, recently had to request more space on the exhibit floor. SEG will use more than 625,000 square feet of exhibition space at the convention center. This year’s meeting has drawn more than 350 exhibitors, including many Houston-based companies.

· The advent of 3D seismic technology, which became a routine part of the exploration workflow about 20 years ago, was a major breakthrough in oil exploration that increased success rates and allowed prospecting into very challenging geographic areas. Now, the advent of 4D (or, more correctly, time-lapse) geophysics is dramatically increasing the production from mature fields. In addition, in-fill drilling on established fields has become more accurate. Some operators claim that their development wells are “hitting” at astonishing success rates.

· The SEG Forum , a panel discussion of industry leaders scheduled for the morning of October 26, will focus on what’s new in exploration and production. A special, low-priced registration for this event makes this overview event easy for interested community members to attend. This ticket also is good for the Sunday Night Icebreaker on the exhibit floor the previous evening. Panelists will include Donald Paul, Executive Director of the USC Energy Institute, John McDonald, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Chevron, among others.

· Geophysics plays a key role in areas other than oil exploration and production. The technology is well suited for environmental and engineering work and is a key factor in the current “hot” topic of CO2 sequestration.

· The SEG meeting will include almost 900 technical presentations (more than 600 oral and more than 250 poster presentations). View technical program.

· SEG Foundation grants nearly US$500,000 in scholarships per year and funds a variety of student programs and events. Last year when the meeting was held in Las Vegas, more than 800 students attended.

· A presentation by University of Houston professor Robert R. Stewart titled “Extreme geophysics: From exploring Maya ruins to an Arctic Mars colony” is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday.

About SEG: The Society of Exploration Geophysicists is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the science of applied geophysics and the education of geophysicists. SEG, founded in 1930, fosters the expert and ethical practice of geophysics in the exploration and development of natural resources, in characterizing the near surface, and in mitigating earth hazards. The Society, which has more than 32,000 members in 138 countries, fulfills its mission through its publications, conferences, forums, Web sites, and educational opportunities. For more information, visit

Whitney Emerick, Society of Exploration Geophysicists

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