The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is connecting, inspiring, and propelling the people and science of geophysics.


On 11 March, 29 men and one woman met in Houston at the University Club to found the Society of Economic Geophysicists. Donald C. Barton was elected the first president. On 20 May, a constitution and bylaws were adopted, and two papers were published in mimeograph form.

The group’s name was changed to Society of Petroleum Geophysicists (SPG), and the first convention was held in conjunction with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).

SPG became the “Division of Geophysics of the AAPG.” The Society continued to meet with AAPG through 1955.

The first issue of Geophysics published.

Once again the name of the organization was changed, this time to Society of Exploration Geophysicists. Accepted as an Affiliated Society by AAPG.

Patents section first appeared in Geophysics.


First Cumulative Index published. Membership: 892.

Constitution amended to permit the establishment of Local Sections.

Council created and met in Denver. First Local Sections chartered. Student Sections formed. Best Paper Award first presented.


First Distinguished Lecture Tour organized. Membership: 2,566.


EAGE organized. Back issues of Geophysics available on microcards.


SEG Crest adopted.


Geophysical Prospecting appeared as a quarterly.


The Executive Committee voted to separate the Annual Meeting from the AAPG. First Associate Editors appointed to assist the Editor of Geophysics.


SEG held its last joint meeting with AAPG, then celebrated its 25th anniversary with a separate meeting in Denver.


The first Yearbook was published, and SEG’s scholarship program was initiated with US$12,125 distributed to 13 students.


A silver anniversary issue of Geophysics was published listing “classic” papers of the first 15 years of the journal, which were selected by a panel of judges. Membership: 5,724.

The SEG Medal Award (later renamed in honor of Reginald Fessenden) was created.

When the SEG staff moved into the Society’s new building in June, there were 5,837 members.

SEG accepted an invitation from the Society of Petroleum Engineers to become a cosponsor of the Offshore Technology Conference. R. E. Sheriff published in Geophysics, the “Glossary of terms used in Exploration Geophysics,” the precursor of his Encyclopedic Dictionary. Sheriff received the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal in recognition of the glossary.

Emeritus Membership was established in 1970. Membership: 7,306.


The 50th anniversary of the reflection seismograph was observed at the Midwestern Meeting in Oklahoma City with the dedication of a monument near the site of the tests of that technique.

The first book published jointly with AAPG, Stratigraphic Oil and Gas Fields-Classification, Exploration Methods, and Case Histories, appeared. It was to be 25 years before the second joint publication effort by the two societies.

Sheriff produced SEG’s all time best-seller, Encyclopedic Dictionary of Exploration Geophysics. The addition of three new student sections brought the total to 28.

The Maurice Ewing Medal Award was established as SEG’s highest award.

Geophysics began monthly publication, and 15 Continuing Education courses were offered.


In the 50th anniversary year of the Society, when the total membership was 14,172, there were 12,319 registered at the Annual Meeting. Eleven of the original 30 founders of SEG attended and were honored at that meeting. That attendance record has not been broken.

A record US$4 billion was spent on geophysical acquisition and processing in 1981. More than 100,000 attended the OTC that year.

Geophysics, The Leading Edge of Exploration, debuted in June. The SEG scholarship program passed the million-dollar mark with awards of US$130,800. Expanded abstracts were required for all papers presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting.

The Geophysical Resource Center was completed and occupied. It was dedicated the following year.

Two special issues were published to commemorate the fiftieth year of publication of Geophysics. A new film about geophysical exploration, Seeing the Unseen: Geophysics and the Search for Energy and Minerals, was produced. The First Annual Gulf Coast Exploration and Development Meeting was held, and the first joint meeting of the China Petroleum Society and SEG took place in Beijing. SEG’s membership of 19,559 was the highest total to that point and would remain the record for 10 years.

Shell Companies Foundation donated US$100,000 for books and periodicals to the SEG Library in the Geophysical Resource Center, and the building was named the Cecil and Ida Green Tower.

Seismic Data Processing, Özdogan Yílmaz’s best seller, was available at the Annual Meeting in New Orleans. This was to become the second all-time revenue producer behind Sheriff’s dictionary. The SEG Foundation was reorganized.

An agreement with AAPG, SPE, and SPWLA led to the formation of an Intersocietal Coordinating Committee. The first EAEG-SEG joint research workshop under a new agreement to hold alternating workshops every other year and the first ASEG-SEG joint meeting were held.

Initiation of the SEG Foundation Trustee Associates.


A 15-tape set video short course, given by Oz Yílmaz and based on his Seismic Data Processing, was produced by Western Geophysical and offered to SEG to market. Membership: 14,964.

Attendance at the 61st Annual Meeting in Houston was 10,670. The Executive Committee adopted a policy of holding a midyear meeting annually in a venue outside North America.

Successful meeting held in Moscow. Record income of just under US$7 million for the year.

GEOROM, a set of CD-ROMs containing fifty-seven volumes of Geophysics – 1936-1992 – fully searchable, was produced. The mortgage on SEG’s building, the Geophysical Resource Center, was retired.

A nine-year decline in membership was interrupted when gains were shown in each category of membership. GEOROM was expanded to include selected articles from The Leading Edge plus Sheriff’s Dictionary, The Cumulative Index, and Expanded Abstracts from the Annual Meeting. An SEG Home Page, hosted by Stanford University and maintained by volunteers led by Brian Spies, was established.

A CD-ROM of the Expanded Abstracts of that meeting was offered at the Annual Meeting in Houston.

The donation of a Sun Netra Webserver to SEG by Sun Microsystems allowed the Web site to be moved to the Business Office, enabling the entire Internet operations to be done in-house.

The Distinguished Instructor program was inaugurated, wherein a selected individual presents a short course in various sites around the globe. The first instructor is Ian Jack. A constitutional amendment was approved which increased the membership of the Nominations Committee from the historical three most recent past-presidents by four members to be selected by a prescribed method from the Sections and Associated Societies.

An all-time record of 1,457 booths were sold for the Annual Meeting in New Orleans. The SEG Museum was reorganized by the addition of a Virtual Museum and Traveling Museum to the existing museum in Tulsa. The Distinguished Educator program was launched and Robert R. Stewart of the University of Calgary was chosen as the first honoree. A new logo was adopted by the Council to reflect the Society’s increasingly international nature.

Despite a turbulent year in the petroleum industry, the Annual Meeting in Houston drew 11,103 attendees, and there were 1,276 booth sales—the second-highest total ever. Also, paid membership grew to nearly 16,000, the highest total since 1987. A major redesign of the SEG website was completed, and an equipment donation from Sun Microsystems helped prepare SEG for a bold digital future.


SEG Annual Meeting returns to Calgary for the first time since 1977. This is only the third time the meeting has been held outside the United States. Sally Zinke becomes the first woman to hold the office of SEG President. The increasing percentage of members residing outside the U.S. causes the International Affairs Committee to be radically restructured and renamed the Global Affairs Committee. Membership: 16,894.

The SEG Executive Committee authors a strategic vision of the future of geophysics and SEG’s role in it. While SEG’s Annual Meeting is underway in San Antonio, the terrorist attacks of September 11 took place. The meeting proceeds with only minor disruptions. Mary L. Fleming, director of programs at the American Statistical Association, is selected as Executive Director in December.

The fourth edition of SEG’s all-time best-selling book, retitled Encyclopedic Dictionary of Applied Geophysics to reflect the increasingly diverse employment of the membership, is published. Attendance at the Annual Meeting is disappointing, probably because of the out-of-the-mainstream venue (Salt Lake City) and the travel restrictions imposed after the terrorist attacks a year earlier. However, the meeting has one of the all-time magical moments of any SEG convention—the multimedia presentation of Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic, which wows hundreds of junior high students and experienced geoscientists.

SEG membership exceeds 20,000 for the first time, and a majority of members live outside the United States.

To address income disparity among geophysicists around the world, the Council approved a three-tiered dues structure that allows Active membership at all three levels. Membership approaches 23,000.

SEG marked its 75th anniversary with celebrations at section meetings throughout the world, a special publication, retrospective journal articles, a video about geophysics and the Society, an extra distinguished lecture, historical photos on the SEG website, and special exhibits at the Annual Meeting in Houston. Membership surpassed 25,000 late in the year.

SEG held a highly successful Annual Meeting in New Orleans barely a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. Membership exceeded 27,000 late in the year.

The SEG Foundation launched a US$15 million major-gifts campaign, “Advancing Geophysics Today, Inspiring Geoscientists for Tomorrow,” aimed at accelerating the rate of geophysical innovation and knowledge transfer and attracting more young people to careers in the geosciences.

SEG opened its first office outside the United States in Beijing, China, on 3 April. The SEG Foundation exceeded its US$15 million campaign goal, celebrating pledges totaling more than US$17 million during a celebration at the Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, USA. SEG membership exceeded 33,000.

Despite a worldwide recession, SEG’s Annual Meeting in Houston drew more than 9,200 delegates and filled four exhibit halls with technical session posters and exhibits.


A governance-reform proposal that would have established an 18-member board of directors as SEG’s primary governing body is narrowly defeated by the SEG Council. Steven H. Davis is selected as the Society’s Executive Director, replacing Mary L. Fleming, who retired.

New SEG Bylaws were approved through a vote of Active Members and call for a Board of Directors with at least 14 voting members serving multiple-year terms.

SEG opened a Middle East Office in Dubai and launched a new journal, Interpretation, which it will co-publish with AAPG.

SEG’s Annual Meeting drew 11,015 attendees, the largest registration since 1999. The meeting featured a record technical program with 992 papers presented—624 oral, 176 paper posters, and 192 e-posters.

SEG’s Annual Meeting drew 8,540 attendees, featuring a technical program with 993 papers presented—589 oral, 119 paper posters, and 285 e-posters.

SEG sold the Geophysical Resource Center (GRC) in Tulsa, Oklahoma to League Capital, LLC. Tulsa remained the headquarters office. Also, SEG opened its Asia Pacific office in 2019.


SEG opened an office in Houston, Texas, and made it the headquarters office. Also in 2021, SEG and AAPG combined Annual Meetings to create the International Meeting for Applied Geoscience & Energy (IMAGE). IMAGE ’21 was held as a hybrid meeting in Denver, Colorado, and online. SEG and AAPG formed the Joint Events Team (JET) the global operations of both societies’ meetings. In addition to IMAGE, the JET is responsible for the Energy in Data (EID), Carbon Capture, Utilization & Storage (CCUS), International Conference & Exhibition (ICE), Unconventional Resources & Technology Conference (URTeC), and several workshops. 

SEG’s transformation officially began with the formation of the SEG Transformation Task Force working on key areas including communities, career development, governance, technology, stakeholders, revenue, and communications. As part of this transformation effort, SEG launched its first digital community.

IMAGE ’23 drew 7,329 global attendees, a 23% increase from the 2022 event. Also, the SEG digital community surpassed 2,000 members!