Meet one of our first online short course instructors 

 The EAGE Interactive Online Short Courses is a new format. It brings carefully selected courses of experienced instructors from industry and academia online to give participants the possibility to follow the latest education in geoscience and engineering remotely. Participants will have the possibility to interact live with the instructor and ask questions. We did the first course in this series on 13-14 May with Piet Gerritsma on ‘Seismic Processing Steps’. We took the chance to ask him about his work and teaching.

How did seismic data processing come important for you?

Seismic data processing is intimately related with data acquisition and data interpretation and as such the processor is automatically involved with the possibilities and requirements of these other disciplines. It has also its own physics-based theories as signal analysis, elasticity and rock physics and the wave equation (to various amounts of sophistication). Being an essential part in the cooperation of all these disciplines to arrive at better resolved images and more accurate parameters of the subsurface together with the practical relevance for the industry is what makes seismic data processing attractive.

Are there any particular breakthroughs you would like to see in your area of seismic research?

We all witness the ongoing developments in acquisition with the recording of lower frequencies, longer offsets and multi-azimuth, higher density and blended data and multi-component acquisition as enablers together with increased computer power to apply more sophisticated algorithms (e.g., elastic RTM, elastic FWI) to derive better images and more accurate parameters of the subsurface. Gains are also to be expected from improved inter-disciplinary cross-fertilization with petrophysicists, geologists, and reservoir engineers in time-lapse seismic via a shared earth model. With growing computer resources AI, big data handling and pattern recognition will enable faster and more exhaustive data extraction from the seismic data.

What inspired you to become a short course instructor?

Teaching has always been part of my job. I consider it as the best way to familiarize myself with the material. Understanding the fundamentals is the first requirement for successful research. Moreover, there is the challenge to convey the message to other people.

What do you like participants to take away from your lectures?

I adhere to the dictum ‘Nothing is more practical than a good theory’. As mathematics is the language of the physicist, I make an effort to appeal as much as possible to the physics that underlies the formulae. Therefore, I hope that the participants take away a sound understanding of what really matters physically.

How did you find the experience of presenting your EAGE Short Course online?

Nothing surpasses physical contact between instructor and course participants and physical contacts between the participants among each other. A webinar is the next best way to present a course; it is also very efficient in terms of time and the handling of the logistics. As such I am very positive about this medium.

Would you recommend other EAGE Short Course instructors to give their course online too?

Yes, I would certainly recommend to others to make use of this medium. As the instructor does not have to travel, there are no disadvantages, other than those mentioned above, Moreover, being able to contribute to the dissemination of your knowledge and experience is rewarding in its own right.

What inspires you to keep on teaching?

I still enjoy keeping myself up-to-date with the developments in the field of geophysics and subsequently incorporate these developments in my course material. It is a moving target that never comes to an end. Especially, I enjoy the contact with young people, be it the students at TU Delft or the young professionals in the industry. I also enjoy the travelling that comes (came as a consequence of the coronavirus) with the live presentation of the courses.

How do you advise course participants on their studies and future career in geophysics?

It cannot be denied that worldwide the interest among students in earth sciences is declining. However, the skills that are required to become a successful geophysicist can, in addition to the traditional applications, also be applied in other fields, e.g., engineering geophysics, CO2 sequestration, geothermal exploration, and acoustic (medical) imaging. Therefore, there continue to be plenty of reasons to pursue a career in geophysics. Worth noting too, until very recently the world consumed 100 million barrels of oil per day.

Piet Gerritsma graduated in physics at the University of Groningen and joined Shell in 1969 as a research geophysicist in Rijswijk and Houston. He saw operational experience as a processing and special studies geophysicist in Brunei and in Canada. He has been Shell’s representative in international research consortia such as SEP (Stanford), DELPHI (Delft University of Technology) and IFP (Institut Francais du Petrole). He also served as associate editor of Geophysical Prospecting on migration, modelling and inversion. He left Shell in 1999 and since then has been a lecturer at the Centre for Technical Geoscience (CTG) at the Delft University of Technology. He presents courses on behalf of EAGE and CSEG and also teaches courses for national and international oil companies and service companies.


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