Geoscientists Without Borders

Date: 08/15/2011
Location: Denver, Colorado

Chief Geophysicist and Schlumberger Fellow Craig Beasley was honored at a reception for Geoscientists Without Borders held during the 2010 Society of Exploration Geophysicists convention in Denver, Colorado in October.

Beasley, a former SEG president and 2009 SEG Distinguished Lecturer, had the idea for GWB and has been instrumental in the continuance of the program over the last three years.
When the 2004 Asian tsunami wiped out 150,000 people and made millions more homeless, Craig Beasley, Schlumberger Fellow and chief geophysicist, wondered how geophysics could be used to mitigate such disasters.

He had an idea – and an opportunity to implement it. Beasley was serving as president of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) for the 2004-2005 term and he proposed a program called Geoscientists Without Borders® to provide geophysical resources and expertise to communities in need.

With a $1 million founding grant from Schlumberger, the SEG Foundation launched the program in early 2008. The goal of Geoscientists Without Borders is to promote interaction of universities and industry by involving students in the humanitarian applications of the geosciences. Grants are awarded to projects of merit, such as locating fresh water supplies, pollution remediation, natural hazard mitigation, sustainable resource development and related education.

The Foundation continues to raise funds for Geoscientists Without Borders and additional companies have followed the leadership of Schlumberger by donating to the program. Increasing interest has been demonstrated, through inquiries and partnerships, from a growing number of individuals and corporations donating to GWB from around the world. As a result of these contributions to the Foundation, eight projects have been awarded, with one completed already.

“Humanitarian efforts in response to disasters are not new in the geosciences,” said Beasley, “but this program offers the opportunity for the energy sector to play a significant role in this worthwhile effort. The technology and expertise that we have developed in the energy industry, as well as the funding, will be put to good use to help improve the safety and welfare of disadvantaged or distressed people all over the world.”

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Craig Beasley comments:

Geoscientists table

“It is gratifying for all of us who have worked to start GWB to see the rapid growth and enthusiasm it has generated. Without the support of Schlumberger, the SEG Foundation and staff and the founding committee members, it would not have happened. A special thanks is due to Dalton Boutte (then president of WesternGeco and executive vice president of Schlumberger) and Andrew Gould (chairman and CEO of Schlumberger) for their vision and support.

The projects seem almost prescient as natural disasters continue to unfold. For example, we supported a project to study possible tsunami inundation and potential refuge structures around Padang, Sumatra. Since then, two major earthquakes have struck nearby. The earthquake that hit in mid-October generated a 3m tsunami and is believed at this time to have killed hundreds of people in the islands offshore Padang. It did not strike the city of Padang where the devastation to the more than 1 million inhabitants would have been even more severe. This is a very tectonically active zone and many believe it is just a matter of time before Padang will be hit. The GWB project clearly has the potential to save many lives.

Another example is the study of ground movement and tsunami mechanisms in Kingston, Jamaica. After this project was awarded, the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. This is another example of the salience and timeliness of the projects we award at Geoscientists Without Borders. What is even more remarkable is that these projects are being performed by the next generation of geoscientists – students under the supervision of faculty and professionals. I am continually amazed at what is accomplished with relatively modest grants, which is entirely due to the enthusiasm and creativity of those doing the projects.”

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