The spirit of innovation remains strong in the geophysics community

Our profession is positioned to make major contributions to solving the challenges facing society.

Tulsa, OK 15 June 2017 - The profession of applied geophysics has a history of innovation that includes driving major developments of the past century in computation, data management, processing of digital signals and images, visualization and more.

Perhaps the greatest of the “grand challenges” facing mankind is the continuing increase in global population, which as of 2011 exceeded 7 billion people, and by most estimates is on course to reach more than 9 billion by 2050. This puts an enormous strain on the earth’s resources. Geophysics has a major role to play in addressing three of the most important challenges - energy, water, and climate. SEG is positioned to be the nexus for a global community of geophysicists working together to solve these problems.


The energy demand of 9 billion people is enormous. Although alternative and renewable energy sources are growing in importance, hydrocarbons are needed to meet the majority of the energy demand and are expected to be required for decades to come. The majority of population growth is anticipated to be in developing nations. Assuming that everyone has the right to expect a good quality of life, we must strive to ensure that there is sufficient energy available to make this possible. Applied geophysics helps provide energy and can improve the efficiency and safety of oil and gas operations, while reducing the environmental impact.


Although water is essential for life, more than 10% of the world’s population lacks access to clean water. Without a change in water management practices, more than half of the world’s population will live in areas with severely stressed water systems by 2050. Applied geophysics should play a major role in improved management of groundwater systems. SEG programs, such as Geoscientists Without Borders®, are making important contributions to this vital area of societal need.


The earth is continuously undergoing climate change, but the current rate of change is expected to have an increasing impact on humanity. Human produced CO2 emissions are a significant factor. Many SEG members play a role in both understanding climate change and in managing CO2 emissions, including observing glacier and ice sheet volume, studying glacier hydrology, evaluating permafrost degradation, and evaluating and monitoring reservoirs for CO2 sequestration. 


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