Three Cheers for these Unsung Heroes

As a follow-up to my recent post on the SEGY data format entitled "Simple is Not Always Better" - , I want to be clear on how I feel about the role of the SEG in creating these formats so am posting this article written last year.

Since the 1960s, the Society of Exploration Geophysics (SEG) has taken a proactive approach to, and served as a forum for, discussion of geophysical developments in which standards for acquisition and processing of geophysical data need to be identified, created or improved.

For those of you who do not know, formats such as SEG-Y and SEG-D are ‘Society of Exploration Geophysics’ formats, hence the SEG part of the name. The work of the SEG in this area originally started with data standards, mainly in seismic acquisition, starting in 1967 and then in the 1970s it backtracked a little into a more low level analysis and development of standard sets in the areas of basic data recording (not really associated with the data type being recorded – just how data should be recorded on tape in terms of polarity etc.).

Between 1967 and 1975 the SEG collaborated with industry and produced standards for SEG-A, SEG-B, SEG-C, SEG-D, and SEG-Y, with each format being appropriate for its time and related to the seismic acquisition equipment capabilities and compute power of the day. Many of the formats are still recorded today by industry using these same format specification documents.

Between 1975 and 1980, the SEG produced two new standards on units of measure and also polarity. Both of these standards were then used, moving forward, for the other documents they produced and were adopted by industry. During the 1980s the SEG moved into creating positioning formats, map data interchange, seismic streamer and marine source standards.

The 1990s were a prolific time for the SEG producing numerous new standards and also updating past standards to conform with new technology and equipment coming onto the market. These included a new recording format for GPR and Shallow Reflection data, updates to the original polarity document of 1975, two new revisions of SEG-D to allow for ‘demultiplexed at acquisition’ formats, the creation of the monolithic RODE specification format with an update two years later, as well as various ‘Ancillary Data Exchange’ formats for trace attributes, navigation etc. (I had to look up the word monolithic to be sure the choice of word was right and found ‘carved of a single piece of stone, massive and rigid’ – yep perfect).

Since 2000 to present day, we have seen a significant drop in the volume of standards documents being produced. During this period, the SEG handed over navigation and positioning formats to the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP). In the main, the 2000 to 2012 period saw revisions to existing formats to bring them up to date with modern technology, acquisition and processing systems. Incredibly, in

2002, SEG-Y (the most prolific seismic exchange format in the industry) saw its first facelift since 1975 – lasting almost 30 years. Quite an amazing accomplishment for the team of Barry, K. M., Cavers, D. A. and Kneale, C. W. who wrote the original standard in 1975.

For me, when I think of the SEG, I think of standards. They have guided me in my work since I started in the industry and continue to pave the way for us as we move forward. The work they have done, while certainly not glamorous, has produced one of the most valuable bodies of work for the industry, while going unnoticed by many who use these standards on a daily basis to do their jobs. Without these standards, data exchange, data loading, interpretation and so many other challenges we face on a day to day basis – would be far more challenging than they are right now.

Copies of all of the standards produced can be found here:

and the people we owe our thanks to can be found here:

It should be noted that the ASEG (our Aussie version) has also created standards and maintains an active interest in further developing solutions to problems specific to our region.

Editor’s note: The work of the ASEG Technical Standards Committee is described on the ASEG

The Chair of the ASEG Technical Standards Committee is David Robson and his email address


Guy Holmes

Guy is a graduate of Geophysics from Macquarie University in Sydney, and has completed a Masters of Business Administration (Technology Management) from Deakin University in Melbourne. 

Guy is a successful leader with a proven track record in the growth of start up and turn around businesses in the IT, medical and information management sectors.

Guy has extensive experience in the oil and gas, minerals, medical, and information management industries in Australia and the Asia Pacific and is a highly regarded entrepreneur.

Guy’s experience includes:

• Sourcing Venture Capital
• Acquisitions and Sales of businesses
• Commercial technology development
• Research and development for internal and external products
• International business development
• Product and service marketing, development, and management
• Multimillion dollar contract negotiations with government and private sectors (International and domestic)
• Development of business and marketing plans, strategy documents , and other executive level documents
• Industry leader in information management, data management, archiving strategies, legacy technology with a particular focus on the management of oil and gas and minerals information and data on a global scale.
• Operational management and refinement to seek maximum profitability
• Grant applications, financing arrangements, and seeking alternative funding

The results that Guy has achieved in his varied roles stand testimony to his abilities to:

• Manage organizational resources to achieve results
• Develop and drive technology solutions to achieve business goals
• Grow businesses that are both start-up and/or stagnant
• Successfully land, negotiate, perform and complete projects both domestically and internationally

Guy has been married for 24 years and has five children. He enjoys playing ice hockey, travel, mountaineering and spending time with his family and reading.