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News Release, Kansas Geological Survey, Oct. 3, 2002

KGS Section Wins International Geophysics Award

LAWRENCE--A division of the Kansas Geological Survey, based at the University of Kansas, has received an award for scientific contributions from the world's largest professional geophysical society.

The Survey's Exploration Services Section will be presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society of Exploration Geophysicists at the Society's annual meeting in Salt Lake City in October. The award recognizes organizations that have made technical contributions that "substantially advanced the science of exploration geophysics."

Among the previous winners of the award, initiated in 1986, are the Stanford University Department of Geophysics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Toronto Geophysics Laboratory, Texas Instruments Inc., and Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.

"This is one of the most prestigious awards in geophysics," said Survey director Lee Allison. "The previous winners are widely recognized as the powerhouses of science. For our Exploration Services program to 'run with the big dogs' is truly impressive. We are tremendously proud of our team and this honor."

The section is being recognized for developing new techniques, equipment, and software that are used in near-surface seismic investigations. Seismic reflection is used to create images of underground rocks without the necessity of drilling. Seismic reflection, a technique that was originally used in oil exploration, is somewhat similar to sonar on ships or sonograms in medicine. The KGS group's contributions are in shallow seismic reflection, studying features that are less than 1000 feet deep.

These near-surface techniques have many applications, including the detection of tunnels, mines, and underground void spaces that might result in sinkholes at the surface. It is also used in studying geology related to the movement of underground contamination and in the search for resources, such as oil and gas.

The Exploration Services Section used seismic tools and techniques in Hutchinson, Kansas, in January, 2001, to locate and help direct the drilling for natural gas that was believed to have escaped from an underground storage facility.

Researchers in the Exploration Services Section have developed and experimented with various techniques for producing and acquiring the data used in shallow seismic reflection. They also developed computer software for processing the data collected during seismic reflection.

The Exploration Services Section is headed by geophysicist Rick Miller, and includes staff members Joe Anderson, Brett Bennett, Mary Brohammer, Choon Park, Jianghai Xia, Julian Ivanov, and David Laflen. Don Steeples, formerly the Deputy Director at the Survey and now a professor in the KU geology department, has also collaborated in the group's research for the past 25 years.

The award recognized the KGS role in developing common mid-point seismic profiling methods for shallow applications; developing, advancing, and maintaining PC-based software; developing sources and shallow seismic tests; and developing multichannel analysis of surface wave techniques. Choon Park and Jinghai Xia were specifically recognized for their work with surface-wave technology and its application to earthquake hazards, sea-bottom sediment properties, and other near-surface geotechnical investigations.

"Without question the Exploration Services Section of the Kansas Geological Survey has made outstanding contributions to the geophysical community by adapting and developing seismic methodology for near-surface applications, and in educating and training many others around the world in this methodology," read the citation for the award. "For more than two decades, the members of the Section have been recognized internationally as leaders in shallow seismic reflection applications and research."

Story by Rex Buchanan, (785) 864-2106
For more information, contact Rick Miller, (785) 864-2091
Kansas Geological Survey, Public Outreach