Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Opening of SEG building GRC2

Speech given August 20, 2015 by SEG President Christopher Liner at Grand Opening of GRC2. Original draft by Steve Brown (SEG Staff) with edits by C. Liner and D. Proubasta

During speech in lobby of GRC2 with Mayer Bartlett (left) and Councilman Lakin (right) listening.

Good afternoon. Thank you for coming out on such a historic day for the SEG AND the city of Tulsa. As SEG President and a Tulsa native, I am honored to preside over the dedication of this new building — the Geophysical Resource Center 2.

If you will indulge me for a few minutes, I’d like to provide some historical context for our celebration today.

Founded in 1930, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists is a non-profit organization in its 85th year. The SEG mission is one of connecting, inspiring, and propelling the people and the science of geophysics. 

Our members apply the science of geophysics to energy exploration … to mineral exploration … to environmental and engineering problems … to archaeology and mitigating earth hazards. SEG currently has nearly 33,000 members in 125 countries, with offices in Dubai and Beijing. But SEG is proud to call TULSA home.

The building just to our South — you can see it through those windows — was dedicated 30 years ago during a ceremony much like this one. We built that building, the Geophysical Resource Center’s Cecil and Ida Green Tower to serve as headquarters for SEG’s growing staff and assure stability of our Society by diversifying revenue. 

When we broke ground on this 11-acre campus back in 1983, it was an oil boom. SEG AND the city of Tulsa were riding high.

Even as SEG President Red Olander dedicated that first building, a dramatic downturn in the oil industry began. Within year oil prices fell by half and oil companies began to slash expenses.  Our Society’s membership fell that year, and it would continue to shrink for almost a decade.

Both SEG and Tulsa were going through dire straights.

What about now?

Here we are, 30 years later, in the midst of another severe downturn of the oil and gas industry dedicating another new building in Tulsa — GRC…two!  There will always be hard times and opportunities. We seize the opportunity.

The fact is that our SEG staff of about 100 occupies just ONE floor of GRC1. The rest is leased to other Tulsa businesses. Our 1980s investment in that building served its purpose. It provided much-needed office space for SEG and others in the Tulsa community and helped SEG through some tough economic times.

GRC2 -- a $20 million, 80,000-square-foot, Class-A office building — is currently almost 70% leased and we expect 85% lease by mid-September.

Our Society’s investment in real estate enhanced SEG’s ability to serve a global membership during difficult times and will continue to do so with first class tenants. 

Important companies already calling this building home include CCK Strategies, Kinder Morgan and, very soon, Central National Bank. And we have room for a few more. 

GRC2 initiated under the leadership of former SEG President Dave Monk, SEG Board Members, and the SEG Real Estate Board lead by Bob Wyckoff.  GH2 Architects, Manhattan Construction, Program Management Group and Newmark Grub took our vision and turned it into this impressive structure and campus. When we look at what’s been built here, everyone involved can take pride in knowing they did a fantastic job.

A special thank you as well to the tenants of GRC1 who have put up with all the inconvenience of construction. To our new GRC2 tenants: we couldn’t be happier to have you here.

As a significant addition to the SEG AND the city of Tulsa, I hereby dedicate and officially open the Geophysical Resource Center 2. 

Thank you.

Tulsa World article detail:

Tulsa World article full page:

Tulsa World article page one

Tulsa World article page two

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Book Review: Treatise on Geophysics 2nd Edition

As a sitting SEG President I have to be somewhat selective accepting new commitments. You might think a book review is the last thing I would step into, after all I am barely keeping up a few Seismos columns per year in the Leading Edge.

But this is no ordinary book. Treatise on Geophysics 2nd Edition (TOG2) is an 11 volume tour de force, a broad and sprawling effort to capture the current state of knowledge in geophysics. From the outset that presents a problem. Geophysics is a vast collection of disciplines, specialties, topics, methods and so on. The full scope of geophysics cannot be captured even in 11 thick volumes (length varies from 907 page volume 1 to 302 page volume 9). But it is a majestic undertaking, well worth the effort. To paraphrase Robert A. Heinlein, such a book stitches the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.

The general scope of this laudable Elsevier project can be gathered from the volume titles: (1) Deep Earth Seismology, (2) Mineral Physics, (3) Geodesy, (4) Earthquake Seismology, (5) Geomagnetism, (6) Crustal and Lithosphere Dynamics, (7) Mantle Dynamics, (8) Core Dynamics, (9) Evolution of the Earth, (10) Physics of Terrestrial Planets and Moons, (11) Resources in the Near-Surface Earth.

How does one approach reviewing an 11-volume book? Based on education, I feel qualified to comment on volumes 1, 4, 5, 8 and 10. My entire working life, however, is within the scope of just volume 11.The last individual that is thought to known all of science was either Thomas Young (d. 1839) or Hermann Von Helmholtz (d. 1894), depending which historian you believe.  If we narrow the discussion to just geophysics, someone likely understood it all in the early 1960's (who?), before the subsequent explosion of applied science. It is the nature of a composite science like modern geophysics, that no one person can possibly be an expert in all aspects of the subject.

But that is precisely why magnificent projects like TOG2 are undertaken with an army of editors and contributors. The editor-in-chief of TOG2 is Gerald Schubert of UCLA, member of the National Academy of Sciences and famous as co-author with Donald Turcotte of the standard textbook Geodynamics. Each volume has one or two editors and individual chapters have one or more authors, so TOG2 runs the risk of being science by committee or, worse yet, a tired compilation of previously published papers presented as chapters. Yet, TOG2 compulsively and completely fights this temptation, creating instead a masterful collection of chapters by first-class authors rewarding the reader with a stroll right up to the dizzying height of current knowledge in literally hundreds of subject areas. In volume 1 alone, the list of chapter authors reads like a who's who, even if you are not in the field of Deep Earth Seismology: Dziewonski, Virieux, Cormier, Tromp, Levander, Zelt, Symes and Keller to name a subjective few.

The typical SEG reader will notice that TOG2 is not intended to span the applied geophysical subjects associated with fossil fuel and mineral exploration, although volume 11 (Resources in the Near-Surface Earth) is a good, self-contained overview. Rather, it deals with the fundamental science behind applied geophysics (particularly seismology) and its application to understanding the earth and planets. To give one example, Theory and Observations: Forward Modeling: Synthetic Body Wave Seismograms (vol. 1, ch. 6) is a panoramic discussion of seismic modeling algorithms, parameterization, and a broad view of heterogeneity, attenuation and anisotropy. One can easily forgive two colons in the chapter title considering the authoritative depth and breadth of the text. A picky reader might notice that constant Q theory is given as an approximation (that violates causality) without reference to the exact theory of Kjartansson, and anisotropy without mention of Thomsen. The former omission is particularly curious since Kjartansson's work appeared the prestigious  Journal of Geophysical Research. But these are quibbles that detract nothing from a strong authoritative text.

In my opinion, Treatise on Geophysics 2nd Edition is a splendid, ambitious encyclopedia of the fundamental geophysical sciences. As such, it would be a welcome addition to any working library in pure or applied geophysics. It's publisher, editors and authors are to be commended for undertaking and so finely executing such a task. One wishes that the major applied scientific societies (SEG, AAPG, SPE) would collaborate on a similar scale to create a treatise that would as adequately capture the current knowledge of applied geophysics.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Mother Tongues

Occasionally you come across a graphic that is an amazing mix of excellent information and creative presentation. Saw one today by infographics wizard Alberto Lucas Lopez (from Navarra in Spain) that is the best visualization for world languages that I have come across (below, click for full size).

As a mother tongue, English is not dominant. But the bottom graphs show English is spoken in more countries (110) countries than any other language and is by far the most popular language being studied around the world (1500 million learners). 

Finally, at bottom right we learn that Papua New Guinea has an astounding 839 languages!

Here is another wild one showing Chinese investments around the world from 2005 to 2014. Amazing and hard to imagine any way to show the information better. Bravo Alberto!

I can't resist one more by Alberto: Mortality causes in the 20 richest and 20 poorest countries. Note the leading cause of death in Saudi Arabia is road injuries. It is widely considered the most dangerous country in the world for driving (outside of war zones). Having lived and driven there for 3 years, this is no surprise to me.