“Try to spend some time in foreign operations… opportunity for advancement is good…”

An interview with Roy Lindseth

Coordinated by: Satinder Chopra | Photos courtesy: Penny Colton
Roy Lindseth

Roy Lindseth is one name that every geophysicist has heard of as somewhere along the geophysical journey, one comes across contributions made by him. Amongst his many contributions, his pioneering work on 'Seislog' stands out. Some of our senior colleagues in the industry would have attended Roy’s course on 'Recent Advances in Digital Data Enhancement Techniques’, that he started teaching on the SEG Continuing Education platform since 1968. He has taught this course in more than 48 countries around the world. As a result of his long and varied contributions, Roy has received many honors and awards, some of which are: the Meritorious Service Award, Honorary Member and Gold Medal from CSEG, J. Tuzo Wilson Award from CGU, Centennial Award and Honorary Member from APEGGA, Queen's Jubilee Medal, Doctor of Laws from University of Calgary, Canadian Industry Development and our country's highest honor – the Order of Canada. SEG honors bestowed on Roy include the Kaufmann Gold Medal, Honorary Membership, Enterprise Award and the Maurice Ewing Gold Medal given recently.

Roy is a quiet and a humble soul and very polite in his speech. Both Penny Colton and Satinder Chopra sat down with Roy and made him go down his memory lane. Following are excerpts from their conversation.

S: Roy, first of all thank you very much for giving us this opportunity to sit down and chat with you.

Thank you for inviting me.

S: I just wanted you to begin by having you speak a little bit about your educational qualifications and your long work experience.

Well, starting with educational requirements, in 1942 I graduated at age 17 from High School with a Grade XII Diploma. World War II was in progress, so I enlisted in RCAF. With the war beginning to wind down I was soon discharged but I needed money to go back to school. That took me overseas with United Geophysical Corp.

At the end of the first contract I was running 2 crews for Chevron in Venezuela and had married, and so instead of going to school returned to Venezuela, eventually becoming Geophysicist in Charge of Eastern Venezuela and in Trinidad. When we finally returned to Calgary in 1960, I had learned a lot from many good people along the way, but registration with APEGGA was required. APEGGA arranged for me to sit for final exams in Geophysical Engineering at the University of Calgary. That is how I earned my registration as a P.Geoph.

S: Your work experience after that?

Do you want to hear more?

S: Yes, let’s bring it up to date.

All right. To back up a bit, our offices in Caracas were in the IBM building. I was intrigued with the possibility of using accounting machines but the local IBM staff was accountants and were of little help. Therefore on the way home in 1960, I attended a two week course in digital computer technology and learned to wire up a program punchboard for an IBM 650 accounting machine.

That came in handy back in Calgary when as a consultant I ran across a difficult problem of locating pay zones in a field of braided sands and shales. To model the seismic response under varying reservoir conditions I programmed a primitive form of deconvolution on the local IBM 650. The results proved to be quite successful in spotting well locations and got me into digital operations.

With an IBM card punch and an analog flatbed pen plotter I started a company called EDP – Engineering Data Processors. Two fine Oil engineers, Frank Jeffries and Dave Connolly had developed log analysis programs for Imperial Oil and needed to digitize several well logs.

We developed a digitizer using a Stroger switch from an old rotary telephone. Tracing the well log moved an arm that dialed the rotary switch. The impulses went to an IBM 80 column card punch and in that way EDP got into the digitizing business. We wore out Stroger switches about one every two days, and finally contracted development of an electronic digitizing device. Everything just grew from there.

IBM replaced the IBM 650 accounting machine with a Model 1401 Business computer and later, a Model 1620 Scientific computer. The 1620 had handy feature of little screen that displayed each instructions as it was executed. Programs could de-bug the program by merely reading each instruction as it was executed.

These were both stored program machines and I started writing programs in Fortran and Cobal. One of the first of these was the digital synthetic seismogram. By that time the sonic log had come into use. A large number of log charts in analog form on paper were available for a nominal fee from Riley Reproductions. We then digitized the logs and for each produced a digital synthetic seismogram on a standardized form. A veteran geologist named Mickey Crockford picked all the tops. We added well information and called the product a Sonigram. We sold these off the shelf, which provided steady income. We soon had a fleet of digitizers and a library covering much of the Western basin. It was a matter of pride that our digitizer operators were handicapped and took pride in working.

P: That was in the early 60s, or mid 60’s?

That was 1963 or ’64 I guess.

As you might expect I had a lot of help from some great friends. Among others, Bud Coote of Accurate Exploration, Ernie Pallister, who originated participation surveys, and Rod McDaniels the reservoir expert. They suggested we form a public company. EDP was sold into a new company called CDP Computer Data Processors Limited, which was listed on the Toronto exchange. CDP brought the first large scientific computer into Calgary. It was a Control Data machine and I guess one of the first of its type anywhere.

I had previously started writing programs for seismic data processing, and had written most of our first seismic processing package. Early digital applications didn’t do very much by today’s standards . Field recording instruments were still mostly analog. We digitized, took out Normal Moveout, applied some band pass filters, but deconvolution was still something of a stretch for computers of the time.

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P: Were you personally writing the programs for Normal Moveout and Processing?

Yes, I was writing the programs – in Fortran program language. So yes, I wrote most of the early software for CDP Computer Data Processors. Of course, as CDPgrew we had staff programmers too. Some very good ones were Hans Hoogstraat who was really my right-hand man in seismic, and another, Barry Large, that did a lot of great graphics work with us.

P: Then you were getting into deconvolution programming to?

That’s right. I still have a printout of my first deconvolution program. But the start of the real deep digital revolution was really two fold. Stacking came along at just about the same time as digital deconvolution. The combined improvement was tremendous. The SEG formerly published yearly maps with circled large areas where the noise or interference was so bad that seismic records were useless. Once stacking and deconvolution came along those maps disappeared in about two years. It was certainly a happy time and a busy time.

P: You were fairly active in the SEG or the CSEG?

Oh yes, I became quite active in their activities.

P: I understand you were also active with CWLS? (Canadian Well Logging Society)

Yes, in fact EDP Engineering Data Processors was formed primarily to do well log type work. My first seismic inversion paper was published in the CWLS Journal some time before a more formal version appeared in Geophysics.

S: So you became the Vice President and the Director of the firm?

Yes, I was Vice President and Director of CDP.

The next major move resulted from seismic inversion. Some of the early CDP investors didn’t want to spend money on research, so we agreed to part ways. Those who wanted to stay with the original operation, including plain bread and butter seismic processing took that part of CDP, and later merged it with Digitech. From the rest I formed Teknica as a private company and went on from there.

S: So this was in '73?

Yes, actually it was in 1972. To go back a bit to Penny’s question about the SEG involvement. Early digital processing was no different from magic, and some people cloaked it in a lot of mathematics and mumbo-jumbo and because they didn’t want it to be common knowledge perhaps. For whatever reason I could explain the physical properties fairly well. I believe it was 1966, that Peter Savage, President of the CSEG, asked me if I would put on a brief review of digital processing. It was scheduled for a hot summer afternoon, so I didn’t think many would attend, but the hall was full. A gentleman named Craig Ferris from Tulsa happened to be in the gallery and he said, “I would like to have you present this in Tulsa”. So that I did, at the University of Oklahoma, and it just blossomed into an SEG tour. The notes were published in the CSEG Bulletin and finally published as a book.

S: Roy, let’s complete your work experience and then we go on to other questions.

The initial digital processing course was part of the CDP experience. It was later in Teknica that I started developing the inversion processing and doing that kind of work.

S: So how long did you work for Teknica. Obviously it was your company?

Yes, it was my company, until 1990 when we ran into financial difficulties. I sunk everything I had into developing a work station. I also had some generous support from oil companies, but when the big oil price crash came in ‘88, our support dropped out. At that time there wasn’t much Venture capital in Canada so we were briefly into receivership. Fortunately a good friend saw an opportunity and had a group buy the Company. I came out not as well as I would like, but they treated me very well. I stayed for two years more as a consultant.

In 1992 I managed Canada’s High Performance Computing Centre and did that until it became obvious in 1994 that PCs were going to take over the world.

S: It was in Calgary?

Yes, it was in Calgary. Our computer was housed in the Amoco Building. We had Canada’s highest performance civilian computer, a Japanese Fujitsu, which had 2 1/2 gigaflops of power. At the time it was number 13 or 14 or so in the world of large computers. We had hoped to use it for seismic data processing but by the time we got it installed it was pretty obvious that the work stations and mini computers were taking over that business.

Nevertheless we did a lot of interesting things. We basically put in the first fiber optic network in Calgary. We were tied in with the U.S. ARPA Network, and had the early version of Internet that A R PA had developed. It was quite an operation. One of your people today mentioned that he knew me back in HPC years.

P: Were there other people that we would recognize who were part of the HPC?

Probably, but they became widely dispersed. HPC had some first class talent, some with a colorful background. One programmer, for instance, a really brilliant fellow, had escaped from a Communist country at risk to his life. HPC did considerable work with the University of Calgary. Super computing needs a lot of money into it to keep it going. As you know, about every three years the machines have to be replaced to keep up to date, and funds just weren’t available.

In 1992 I started another company, Royal Resource Technologies Limited. About that time I also recognized that the oil business includes a lot of interesting activities in addition to geophysics and seismic computing, so I tried a few other things.

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S: Was there a consultancy formed?

Yes, in a way, but on a broader base, I went to Columbia, when the national oil company, Ecopetrol, was designing their Research Center. I spent a good part of a year designing the geophysical section and then setting it up, training students, and so forth.

In 1993 I went to Columbia to help assess some of the reserves on the huge Cusiana project and ended up as a representative for TransCanada Pipelines. I was President of a regional subsidiary in Columbia for 3 years and moved to Venezuela in 1997 on a large gas plant and pipeline project.

P: There must have been some connection there with some of the people you knew in Calgary?

Oh, yes, this was all with TransCanada Pipelines, who, with partners got the contract to build the pipeline and the shipping terminal for BP’s Cusiana Field. The construction went right through Guerilla country but the Colombian Army patrolled the operation so there were no major incidents. We also built a gas pipeline to Cali, Colombia. The best route went right over the mountains. I have a picture of the line crews laying pipe with snow in the background.

I returned to Calgary in the year 2000, after Mr. Chavez came into power in Venezuela. Unfortunately my wife died of cancer soon after, so 2000 was a pretty tough year.

With my old company, Teknica, I won a contract in Mexico with Pemex and lived in Mexico from 2003 through 2006.

S: When you were growing up, what was your ambition?

When I was young my Number One ambition was to live to the year 2000. I was born in 1925 and expected that if I could just make it to the year 2000 something wonderful would happen, maybe fireworks for the millennium. That ambition was easily realized, including a few bonus years.

As far as work the main interest was chemistry. During high school I had fairly well equipped lab in the basement of our house with all sorts of chemicals, beakers, retorts and stuff , including a distilling retort. This led to a great idea to save fuel during the war. I had a good friend whose father ran McGavin Bakeries in Calgary. In baking, when yeast raises the dough it gives off alcohol. Unknown to Mr. Wemp, the manager, we lugged an old radiator up to the dough room vent on the roof of the bakery and set it up to condense the fumes. The yield was about a gallon of alcohol in water. The idea had a short life because it was and still is considered highly illegal for an individual to produce alcohol.

P: What part of geophysics caught your attention the most?

Obviously the math and the geology, plus I certainly have enjoyed the foreign operations. Foreign operations are still generally big time, big structures and big potential. Like domestic work in the ‘50s when truly worth while discoveries were made, say four, five, or ten thousand barrels a day. There are still several of those to be found around the world. Without doubt petroleum is finite but there is still stuff to be found. True there are fewer and fewer places to go to look for. I just came back from Mexico, where large opportunities still exist.

S: Roy, what has been the most memorable moment in your profession?

There are many kinds of memorable moments.

S: Well you can enunciate them all.

Too long, but some were adventures like seismic work in the Buchado Area of Colombia, south of Panama. There it rains an inch every day of the year. The only access was by boat or by a PBY amphibious supply plane that landed on the Atrato River. Just before Christmas it arrived to take the crew out on leave. As the pilot gained speed for lift off, a floating log ran right through the hull and up into the cockpit. The plane immediately took on water and nosed over in the river but did not sink. There was nothing to do but to somehow get out, get to shore, and get a rope around the plane before it drifted too far downstream.

There have been several incidents like that, so I couldn’t begin to recite them all. Having a good discovery made on the basis of your work is memorable. The ceremony of the Order of Canada created a memorable day of a different level. I have enjoyed a tremendously interesting life.

S: You have mentioned different landmarks in your life; which ones do you consider the most successful?

The most successful?

S: Beginning of Teknica or CDP or subsequently the EDP, …?

Most of those ventures were in a way a sort of means to an end. I was more interested in the actual technical success of our work. I am very proud of the number of young people who have worked with me and then done something very successful themselves. Whether or not I had anything to do with it, there is always satisfaction in seeing associates go on to very successful careers. For example Dave Robson of Veritas worked for us one time. It’s an element of considerable pride that somehow we were able to attract good talent, although sometimes we weren’t able to hold them.

S: Brian Russell for another, was working for you?

Brian Russell is an excellent example, among others. The danger in trying to make a list is the risk of leaving out some fine people.

S: Do you have any special recollections from Technica?

The real wonder is the ability to look into subsurface to see what has happened to it during geological time. Seismic is a very good tool. What’s really interesting about the process is how the whole system works, how the sedimentary section develops, how the petroleum comes into it, moves through it and is stored. Many geophysicists are proud to be pure geophysicists, rightly so, but geophysics is just a way to see the geology. I am appalled even today at how many geophysicists really do not have a good sense of geology. Their orientation is structural, rather than stratigraphic, but the depositional process, the way the sediments were laid down and how the petroleum gets into the rocks and all such thing are usually more important. An interpreter must understand such things as how faults work, not just whether compressional or otherwise, but how all of the movements take place. That intrigues me even now. I like to start with the big picture and then work down into precise detail of the trap or play or whatever we are trying to measure. Modern data acquisition and processing can be so good that almost all of the wiggles on a seismic trace are real information, but much of it is kind of micro in size and rarely gets used. Workstations are certainly a great convenience and a very valuable tool, but if you expand the detail enough to use it, the amount of section examined is pretty small. You can’t readily see how the detail affects the larger picture.

Interpreters tend to concentrate on the horizon they are interested in but they often don’t know how it fits in with everything else. It is not enough to merely find production. Well locations can sometimes be oriented to help ensure optimum recovery just by spending a little more time on the data. Seismic interpretation is pretty cheap compared to the cost of survey and the cost of a poor location.

Trace inversion helps, particularly if you use all the data. So much conventional seismic data is massaged and filtered down to make it look smooth. I thought processors got away from that several years ago but not always so and as a result you really don’t always see the truth. The geology is all there in the seismic data, but it takes some special skills to preserve it.

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S: So now when you look back on your career, how do you feel? Is it a feeling of contentment, joy, or satisfaction, or something else?

There is a story of a very successful bush pilot in La Paz, Bolivia, who even though his light plane would be airborne after only a very short run, would always start his take-off from the extreme end of the airport runway, one of the longest in the world, When asked why, he replied: “In years of flying, I have found that the two most useless things I have are the runway behind me and the air above me.

Similarly, the past is behind me, and the world has yet more wonders than I can ever hope to enjoy. Gratitude may be the right answer, or perhaps awe.

I’ve had more good things happen to me than to most people, and life has given me more than my share of adventure. Doing geophysics around the world is very rewarding. One thing that I would like to be able to do is ensure that every person that gets into the seismic business gets a chance to work overseas. Work done only in a domestic area narrows the vision.

S: Like a frog in a well.

That’s right, my advice is to go out, go foreign, spend a few years overseas. It is great for your career, plus you will see and do things that will affect your life, both in the social and the technical aspects. Don’t stick around in one area, but try to move around a bit. I’ve been so fortunate to have worked in so many countries. Every place I go to I have friends. If I return somewhere today, even after forty years someone will come up and talk to me. And again, to see how these people have advanced and moved up to major positions is always a pleasure.

S: You are the former President of the CSEG and SEG. Tell us about some of the differences that you perceive about the running of these two societies now?

Well, of course they have both matured, perhaps the SEG earlier because it started earlier and has a bigger population, but both have grown from volunteer type organizations to the corporations they are today. They both run very well. I always thought being a President of one was –in one way, a caretaker position because the Societies usually have very good management. In any well-run society there is a good manager, and in turn good staff. A President shouldn’t try and stir the pot up too much. Of course the organization must progress and respond to its members but probably one or two good changes or ideas per term are adequate.

I also have enjoyed my participation with the AAPG and some other fine organizations. I may have a little more in my heart for the CSEG because it was pretty basic in the early years.

P: Do you remember when you first joined the CSEG, I know it started about 49 or 50 and Galloway was the first President?

I joined as soon as I returned to Canada so I go back to 1960.

P: When you were out in the field—it hadn’t quite started yet?

No, the first time I returned, in 1950, it hadn’t started but when I came back in 1960 it was already in operation.

S: So you toured more than 30 countries in 1966 or so as you mentioned, giving your course on the SEG Digital Lecture Series?

Yes, did I mention there were actually two SEG lecture cycles? One was on digital seismic processing and a later one on inversion. There was also an AAPG tour.

S: Something new at the time?

Yes, new and so valuable in the context of the times. Most of the computing at that time prior to deconvolution had to do with plus and minus operations. Working geophysicists hadn’t given much thought to Fourier transforms and things like matrix operations, or the mathematics of convolution and deconvolution, because they weren’t in common use. Computing was done on slide rules. There was a little bit of manual dip migration. A fine teacher was Dr. C. Hewitt Dix of United Geophysical Company. He developed a ruler with a swing that converted milliseconds of dip across a paper record into angular dip. Albert Musgrave at Colorado School of Mines came up with a machine to calculate and draw wave front charts. This was a big advance because manual construction of a wave right chart took a day or more of grinding out numbers on a Monroe hand operated calculator.

When I started working with Bud Coote, Accurate Exploration had a machine that would take remove normal move out from analog seismic recordings. A grinder cut a cam curved to match the time delay down the record for each trace. As the cams rotated they advanced or retarded the travel time to yield a corrected record.

S: Amongst other things, your name is associated with the development of the Seislog and you are known for that. I remember back home when in the late 80s I also had the opportunity of playing around with the software that Teknica had developed, and for this particular technique which you were using at the time, band-limited seismic inversion, it has since been modified in terms of model based inversion, or sparse-spike inversion and things like that. So tell us about how this idea germinated for the band-limited inversion of seismic traces into sonic log type traces.

Recall that the sonic log was a relatively late invention and so at one time there was considerable effort made trying to synthesize a sonic log from older well logs.

S: You mentioned about preparing synthetic seismograms digitizing the log and preparing synthetic and then selling them out to people.

Yes, it was considered a great thing to just to be able to correlate a well log to a seismic record. Synthetic seismogram was the featured product of the time but since there were so few sonic logs the effort was to try to make one from perhaps the SP and Resistivity curves. We tried to use the seismic trace to develop an approximation of a sonic. We did such stuff at that time but I didn’t think of it as a seismic tool. Rather it was seen as an engineering tool.

Getting good subsurface velocities remains a problem even today and I continue to work in that field. A source of low frequencies is the one thing that is missing in making a true inversion.

S: You have written one book on seismic data processing, which is still being sold by the SEG.

I get a little royalty check for that every year. I donated the copyright to the SEG but they still give me a royalty. Actually there were two editions. The first book was on digital seismic processing. It stopped with deconvolution and attributes. Another thing I haven’t mentioned was that we experimented a lot with the use of color because many early attributes were most effective when presented in color.

S: You are referring to complex trace analysis?

Yes, but even before that we were simply coloring amplitudes –if reflection amplitudes are colored in a proper manner you can see the high amplitude reflections immediately. Normal black or color trace fill doesn’t distinguish very well between a low positive and a high positive except in a gross sense because it is not quantitative, but if the color is varied in discrete steps, the magnitudes become obvious, much as on a map. There were no color printers or plotters, so we did paint-by-numbers, as were the early Seislog sections. In our office in the Medical Arts Building, we had 20 or 30 students on call that would come in and color by numbers. We bought colored pencils by the case. Between each pair of contour lines the pen plotters would write a number corresponding to the color number on the pencil. The kids would come in after school and color the charts. Rubbing with a little solvent would even out the tint.

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S: We have those pencils even now. My kids were using them, when they were small.

That was one thing I liked about the early companies. They were great for creating jobs. There were thousands of paper well logs and seismic records in files that had to be digitized for digital processing. Handicapped people could work part time and digitize as much as they wanted when ever they wanted.

P: Do you have any idea what happened to those maps, are they still around or in archives at some place?

Well, one of them stayed when we started Teknica, some stayed with the Computer Data Processors when they became Digitech. I suppose some may exist somewhere on digital tape, but no, I don’t know where they are is the short answer. They have gone into limbo somewhere. I may have a few samples stashed away as memorabilia.

S: What is your perception about writing, do you still do some form of writing?

I do a considerable amount of writing of reports and so forth. I like to write. Sharing of information is not necessarily sharing of knowledge, if there is not an understanding of how to use the information. Many of the places I go to overseas, still need knowledge in how to best use the information they have. Technology is not necessarily technique, but requires something written about it so it gets spread around. I write technical reports and I think I write good reports.

S: You had served as President of APEGGA in 1979. I believe there was discontentment amongst the geophysicists at the time because it was difficult to get registration. Do you think the situation has changed somewhat?

Well, there is a balance obviously. The whole purpose of APEGGA is to protect the public. In other words—to ensure competence. Hand in hand with registration go Codes and Standards for public safety and well being. Of course many things can be written and legislated, but are not of much effect if enforcement is lacking.

Also, perhaps as many as those who find registration difficult consider it unnecessary. The “I’ve been working for 20 years here and I don’t need to prove my ability” attitude.

But I refute the complaint that registration is difficult. It does have certain requirements, mainly a relevant diploma and some record of experience. In that there have been some changes. At one time the apprentice system was in vogue, and many competent professional came up from the roots of experience. Also terminology was once less specific. A locomotive engineer may be very competent, but today he is not an engineer as defined by the Registration Act. If anything, registration requirements are somewhat narrower than they were 50 years ago.

A related problem is that loading of new technology on top tends to push existing technology downward, in much the same way that children in primary school now deal with topics once taught only in high school. Technologists now do work once done only by a registered professional. Twenty years of experience has less value now than it once did. You must show expertise with current standards and technology, and the base level moves up all the time.

Do you have something related to add to that background?

S: No, because I can only cite my example. I had about 20 years or a little less of experience when I applied for APEGGA registration and somehow they were quite favorable to me in that they didn’t suggest that I should write exams; I worked in some good institutions, the National Oil Company of India (ONGC) first, then I came here to Calgary and I worked in some of the good companies; so I think they gave me credit for that and I got the registration. So I think the situation has changed.

Oh, of course it’s changing, as I say as time goes on new things develop. The International Accreditation Board works all over the world, to try to equate quality of diploma degree from country to country.

P: Particularly in engineering, there is not an International Geology, Geophysics Accreditation, but there is a fairly strong one on the engineering side.

The idea of the University is to implant a degree of thinking and understanding of how the world works, not so much a specific technical field. So I think it is considerably easier now that you can have a degree from any one of a number of accredited Universities around the world and move right in to practice.

P: The statistics in recent years for members of APEGGA show about a third are educated in Alberta, a third from somewhere else in Canada and a third from outside Canada. I don’t know if there were the same similar demographics when you were President in 79.

No, the numbers then were much different, there were many fewer foreign trained applicants, but on the other side of it, certification for many of the developing professions wasn’t available at the time.

P: When one graduated from high school in 1944, and started in field work – one was at the start of the growth of geophysics in Canada. It really took off after the Leduc discovery in 1947.

That’s exactly right.

P: For the people that were working in those periods of time there would not have been many geophysics programs available as university degrees. It was being developed on the fly.

The number of young people that went to University then was a much smaller percentage of the total than it is today just because young people were more often expected to go into a trade or something like that, because those were the job opportunities at the time.

The exponential growth of knowledge and research seems to make it more difficult these days for an individual to come up with some idea like deconvolution. At one time there was probably only a handful or two of people such as Milo Backus, Sven Treitel, Enders Robinson, and Turhan Tanner working in the field.

P: I have one question; regarding the people side of that involvement with APEGGA at the time, I am curious about two things, who talked you into running for President and being on Council and I am sure you talked somebody else into running later.

Maybe I just lucked out, because it is compulsory to have a geophysicist on Council to represent the profession. Certainly the geophysicists are outnumbered when it comes to APEGGA membership.

But, yes, I also have served on the Board of Nominations. It is important to pick people who have the concept of service to the community and not just totally dedicated to the business of their profession.

So yes, I am trying to remember who talked me into it. I think it might have been Norman Christie, the first Canadian President of SEG but I honestly can’t remember.

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S: You have won several awards and there are several professional societies that also have awarded you. Tell us about them and also tell us which of the awards you value the most?

How can I choose, but the Order of Canada heads the list.

Awards come when you are not looking for one. I still wonder sometimes what the criteria are.

S: It must be the contributions you made, different sources whether it’s technical or...?

We all work together. Everybody goes to work and does his/her best, but I have been very fortunate. I appreciate the fact that who gave those awards really felt in the giving, much of what one feels in the pride of receiving.

But there are some I particularly remember. One was in Europe, in Vienna, where I gave a course. For the occasion, we were in an historical European style school. Instead of schoolboys, important Doctorates and business men shared a hard bench, which barely seated the customary two students per desk, all very straight back formal and correct. In the end vigorous thumping on the desks showed their appreciation, as did a beautiful award followed by a warm friendly evening.

Another matter of considerable pride had to do with the founding of GECO, the marine geophysical company. At the beginning of the North Sea development a group of Norwegians came to Calgary seeking to learn what how Norway could participate in the industry. Obviously with their sea faring history and with petroleum in the Norwegian seas, marine geophysics would be one. I am of Norwegian descent, and for quite a while became a consultant to the Norwegian engineering company det Norske Veritas. GECO was born with a converted trawler and a set of second hand instruments, but inspired by their energetic leader, Anders Farstveit, grew to be at one time the largest marine geophysical company in the world. I was fortunate to be on the local det Norske Veritas Board here in Calgary for a period when they were building the Arctic Sea Islands. Those days leave great memories.

S: Would you like to share something about your family, any other member of your family interested in geophysics?

My only direct descendent is a son, Richard. He is a well known architect in Calgary. He specializes in what I would call the Frank Lloyd Wright style of residential homes. He was educated at Carlton and at the London School of Architecture, and now builds these beautiful California type houses as well as more conventional designs. He was President of the Canadian Architect Association, and has won several awards, so he has done well.

After 61 years of marriage I lost my first wife to cancer. I remarried in 2002 and inherited an additional five children and six grandchildren. I have been stampeding with the grandchildren almost every day this past week. We’ve also been to the Tyrell Museum.

S: Roy do you get time to pursue some of your other interests?

I’ve got lots of time now, as I am sort of semi retired. I don’t want to retire. I have tried it a couple of times. After my wife died I didn’t want to do much of anything, but I couldn’t just sit around. One must be doing something. So what do I do now? I do things that seem to be interesting and that people ask me to do. I generally enjoy the mix, and do enough to keep up with the activity but now spend more winter time in warmer climate.

I am a Canadian, born in Calgary and grew up here. I am very proud that my grandparents on both sides were homesteaders. My maternal grandfather was a very successful farmer and rancher. My mother and father met as homestead children on different quarter sections east of Stavely, near Claresholm. Mother was Swedish, father Norwegian, so I have plenty of Scandinavian blood in me. Every two years we have a family reunion. About two hundred people, some in petroleum related business attend from all over the Globe. We meet by Clear Lake, just a mile from the family homestead. The house built in 1904 is still lived in by a fourth generation descendent who continues to farm the land.

S: One final question, what would be your message for young entrants to our profession?

Well as I mentioned before, try to spend some time in foreign operations, say for three or four years or longer. You will learn many interesting things socially and technically. The opportunity for advancement is good, often greater than in domestic operations, the geology is interesting and often rewarding, and you may learn a second language. That would be my advice, if you can possibly manage to do it.

S: Roy, thank you very much for giving us this opportunity.

I enjoyed being with you. It was great to have cause to dredge up so many things from the past.

S: Fond memories of the past.

—of things left behind, but it is a great life. A look out of the window shows we are in a wonderful place. This is indeed the Garden of Eden. I have had my share of life plus a dividend of a few extra years and have enjoyed it all.

S: Thank you.


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