Episode 225: How to Keep Geophysics Relevant w/ Tim Dean

“We (geophysicists) need to look where the markets are rather than expect people to come to us. We have skills, and it’s just about finding where we can apply these in the future.”

Dr. Tim Dean discusses his Honorary Lecture, “Seismic Acquisition and the Energy Transition.”

In this episode, we talk about:

  • The evolving applications of seismic acquisition beyond oil and gas
  • The importance of minerals for the energy transition and the role of seismic in their exploration
  • Innovations in seismic technology that reduce costs and expand capabilities
  • Why geophysics is data science – and other ways geophysicists are missing out
  • The potential of passive seismic techniques in large-scale mineral exploration
  • The future of seismic monitoring and its role in the subsurface changes
  • Addressing the decline in geophysics education and the need for broader application awareness
  • Tim’s interest in collecting physical nodes
Seismic Soundoff · 225: How to Keep Geophysics Relevant w/ Tim Dean

The need for the world to transition away from fossil fuel to renewable energy sources is well established. The seismic exploration industry has long been focused on fossil fuel exploration, so it makes sense that this transition will also impact the industry.   

However, the movement away from fossil fuels does open up new prospects for the seismic method’s application in areas as diverse as geothermal energy and mineral exploration. This episode (and Tim’s Honorary Lecture) examines these new applications and discusses the opportunities that are developing for the method’s application and their likely impact on future developments.

In this conversation with host Andrew Geary, Tim emphasizes the unparalleled imaging capabilities of seismic methods and their critical role in identifying deeper mineral deposits essential for the energy transition. Tim also discusses the challenges and opportunities in applying seismic methods to hard rock environments, the economic differences between the oil and gas and minerals industries, and the importance of evolving geophysical education to meet future demands. He advocates for geophysicists to proactively engage with other industries to showcase the value of their expertise and technologies.

No matter where you are on your geophysics journey, this episode is a must-listen. This conversation is challenging and insightful and may just save geophysics.

Episode Links

Guest Bio

Tim Dean is a specialist project geoscientist for Anglo American Steel Making Coal in Australia. He graduated from Curtin University with a BSc in Geophysics in 1998. He worked in onboard marine data processing for a year for Western Geophysical before returning to Curtin University to complete his Honors, followed by a PhD in Physics at the University of New South Wales. He then enjoyed an extensive career within WesternGeco and SLB, working in various roles, including field operations, software development, and research in Saudi Arabia, England, Norway, and Australia. His final position within SLB was as principal research geophysicist at the Schlumberger Fibre-Optic Technology Centre, where he worked on distributed acoustic sensing. He then joined HawkEye Technology (a division of Sony) as a project advisor before returning to Australia in 2016 to join the Department of Exploration Geophysics at Curtin University. He returned to industry in 2019, joining BHP Coal before moving to Anglo American in 2022. His research interests include land acquisition – particularly vibroseis sources – and survey design, land data processing, and distributed fibre-optic sensing.

Show Credits

Andrew Geary at TreasureMint hosted, edited, and produced this episode. The SEG podcast team comprises Jennifer Cobb, Kathy Gamble, and Ally McGinnis. 

Transcription and episode summary support provided by Headliner.

If you have episode ideas or feedback for the show or want to sponsor a future episode, email the show at [email protected].

Download this Seismic Soundoff