Near Surface Geophysics Reception
One of the key sections of SEG celebrates an exciting year
Mick Swiney, SEG Staff
On the evening of the SEG President's reception and the US presidential election, a very non-presidential gathering took place at the Ri Ra Irish pub in Mandalay Place, where a relaxed and boisterous group gathered in the elegant and intimate environs of a wood-panelled private room to enjoy each others' company, congratulate each other on a year of accomplishments, and look forward to a bright future.
But don't let the casual setting fool you: for this group is none other than the members and supporters of the Near Surface Geophysics Section, a diverse and exceptional group that represents a critical area of focus of SEG, and the science of geophysics itself.
As outgoing president James Irving stated in his remarks to the crowd, it has been an important year for the Near Surface Section at SEG, which has shown its growing recognition of the importance of this field with the addition of a special Honorary Lecturer, Rick Miller, and a dedicated SEG staff member, Laurie Whitesell, both of whom were present and recognised by their near surface colleagues. This new focus was also reflected in a record number of submissions to the annual meeting from the near surface field, and the key role of the near surface section in organizing this year's SEG Forum on the topic of Corporate and Academic Social Responsibility.
Irving continued by passing the torch to current president John Bradford, as well as recognizing the newly elected president-elect Remke Van Dam. Warm words of appreciation were shared for the contributions of outgoing vice president Darcy McPhee, whose duties will be assumed by incoming vice president Kristina Keating.
This was followed by the bestowing of the prestigious Harold Mooney Award and the Frank Frischknecht Leadership Award to members who have advanced the cause of near surface geophysics respectively through their scientific innovations or tireless support and leadership. Unfortunately, neither of this year's recipients, Prof. Klaus Hollinger of University of Lausanne or Andrew Binley of Lancaster University, were able to attend the reception - due to their very active schedules of service and research which have earned them these distinctions.
Perhaps the greatest testimony to the passion and idealism of near surface geophysics and its practitioners was the abundance of young faces present. For a society - and an industry - currently facing concerns of "crew change", as an older generation of scientists worries whether a new one will be around to take its place, the near surface field seems to be flush with young blood.
Near surface projects involve such socially responsible endeavors as restoring ecologically damaged sites, unearthing archeological artifacts, conducting forensic analysis and analyzing earthquake geohazards, to name but a few – worthy pursuits for SEG's youngest members, full of passion and drive and a desire to change the world through their science.
None could have said it better than Professor Rosemary Knight of Stanford University in her impromptu acceptance remarks upon receiving Honorary Life Membership in the Near Surface Geophysics section (a rare and exceptional honor for near surface geophysicists who have made invaluable contributions to the support and expansion of this field).
"Near surface geophysics," said Prof. Knight, "is the perfect mix of doing the geophysics that you love and knowing that what you're doing is making a tremendous contribution to people's lives."