Don Lawton - 2013

CSEG Honorary Membership Award Recipient Dr. Don Lawton

Dr. Don Lawton Dr. Donald Caleb Lawton has an impressive resume. He has also has an extensive history of participation within and contribution to the geoscience community of Canada that often extends into the international arena. The CREWES and Fold-Fault Research Projects became successful academic – industry consortia due largely to Dr. Lawton’s contribution. Every student coming through the geophysics programme at the University of Calgary over the past 35 years will have likely taken a course that he has taught, and over 50 graduate students can attribute their success in part to his supervision and guidance. Many know him as Uncle Don.

In the words of his current and former students, colleagues, staff and friends, the following words are associated with Don: Integrity, Considerate, Level-headed, Balanced, Insightful, Thoughtful, Sagacious, Curious, Geophysical- Swashbuckler, Enthusiastic, Ka-boom, Diligent, Dynamite, Caring, Sheepy, Self Motivated, Committed, Intelligent, Prolific, Approachable, Excellent, Versatile, Sensible, Devoted, Exceptional, Distinct, Passionate, Determined, Brilliant, Leading, Admirable, Visionary, Knowledgeable, Geophysicist, and also Humble, Unique, Holistic, Patient, Patient and Patient.

Don was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and studied at University of Auckland, obtaining a First Class BSc Honours in 1973 and a PhD in 1979. While working on his thesis “Geophysical exploration of Quaternary irons and deposits at Taharoa, Waikato North Head and Raglan, West Coast, North Island, New Zealand” Don also worked part-time at Amoco Minerals as an Exploration Geophysicist. On graduation, Don travelled to Canada to become an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary and steadily progressed to Associate Professor in 1985 and Professor in 1995. From 1997-2002, Don was the Head of Department of Geology and Geophysics, and from 2002-2013 was the Chair in Exploration Geophysics. Since 2013, Don has taken on the role of Director at the Containment and Monitoring Institute, Carbon Management Canada.

During his 35 years in Calgary, Don has taught, mentored and pushed those around him to attain excellence, predominantly leading by example. His depth of knowledge is evident when you review the graduate theses that Don has supervised and the resultant publications – depth imaging, fracture analysis, VSPs, CO2 monitoring, anisotropy, multicomponent, time-lapse and structural restoration all in geological regimes that include complex fold-thrust belts, carbonates, coal, potash mines and the oil sands. That’s just in the past five years. His personal research contributions are extensive and include writing and developing pre stack depth migration and multi-component survey design code, developing anisotropic velocity models in areas of geological dip to precisely image subsurface structures of economic interest, assessing the potential for monitoring CO2 storage in Redwater Reef and demonstrating the challenge of time-lapse monitoring in a clastic reservoir.

With students, colleagues and staff, Don has co-authored 70+ refereed journal publications, 200+ conference abstracts and presentations, 260+ annual research reports for CREWES and FRP, contributed to field guides, books and monographs. Don’s articles often have catchy titles such as “If we could turn back time.” or “Slip slidin’ away – some practical implications of seismic velocity anisotropy on depth imaging”. The latter being awarded the CSEG Best Paper Award in 1998.

Don has a long history of involvement with CSEG, CSPG, SEG, AAPG, EAGE, ASEG, and APEGGA, and has been a member of our society since 1979. He is a past editor of the Canadian Journal of Exploration Geophysics, and he received the CSEG Meritorious Service Award in 1997 and the CSEG Medal in 2000. Recently Don was elected Fellow of Geoscientists Canada for noteworthy service to the profession.

His external service extends beyond Canada, and Don has helped establish a graduate applied geophysics program at Chiang Mai University, Thailand and kept close ties with his home country of New Zealand. In 2011, Don and some ‘self-described slaves’, travelled to New Zealand to help identify faults and assess the risk following the devastating earthquake in Christchurch earlier that year. He then shared the results with the geoscience community through an intensive CSEG Distinguished Lecture tour sponsored by the CSEG Foundation. Don engaged audiences at 28 locations across Canada with his description of the ‘Post-earthquake Seismic Reflection Survey, Christchurch, New Zealand’, took the time to engage the public through interviews with the CBC and Calgary Herald, and along with his coauthors was awarded the Best Poster Paper at the 2012 SEG meeting for a summary of the initial findings.

His academic, industry and society contributions alone, make Dr. Donald Caleb Lawton worthy of the award of lifetime membership in the CSEG. Don is a geophysicist in the complete sense – an expert in acquisition, processing and interpretation. He is a patient teacher, an approachable colleague, a dedicated mentor, a curious researcher, a dynamite field instructor, and an exceptional human being. He is also Affable, Memorable, Time-challenged, Dedicated, Modest, Kind, Big-hearted and Wise. Baaaaaa. Whattaguy.

Dr. Don Lawton