Jon Claerbout

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Jon F. Claerbout (born 1937) is the Cecil Green Professor Emeritus of Geophysics[1] at Stanford University.[2] He has been a leading geophysicist since the later half of the 20th Century. He pioneered the use of computers in processing and filtering seismic exploration data, eventually developing the field of time series analysis and seismic wave propagation. He is the youngest ever recipient of the Maurice Ewing Medal of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists,[3] having received this award in 1992 for lifetime achievements when he was in his early fifties.

Claerbout obtained a BS in physics in 1960, a MS in geophysics in 1963 and a PhD in geophysics in 1967, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His BS thesis was titled A rubidium vapor magnetometer. He worked with Stephen M. Simpson, Jr. for his MS thesis, titled Digital filters and applications to seismic detection and discrimination. The publication of this work made many geophysicists, including those in the oil and gas industry, well aware of Claerbout's potential. However, Claerbout found the sparse availability and low quality of earthquake seismic data frustrating and decided to study atmospheric gravity waves during his PhD. His advisor was Theodore R. Madden and the title of his thesis was Electromagnetic Effects of Atmospheric Gravity Waves.

Claerbout is the founder of the Stanford Exploration Project (SEP), the first geophysical research consortium funded by the oil and gas industry. Claerbout has been a doctoral advisor to many of influential geophysicists who joined SEP such as Oz Yilmaz and Biondo Biondi.

The term and concept of exploding reflectors in reflection seismology is often attributed to Jon Claerbout. However, Claerbout claims that the term was coined by John Sherwood, a geophysicist from Chevron who introduced him to exploration geophysics. John Sherwood has said that he only used the term to refer to Claerbout's innovative method of seismic migration.

He was one of the first scientists to emphasize that computational methods threaten the reproducibility of research unless open access is provided to both the data and the software underlying a publication.[4]

Claerbout's books have been among the most read and cited in geophysical research, especially Fundamentals of Geophysical Data Processing and Imaging the Earth's Interior, which have been translated into Chinese and Russian among other languages. He has since made all his books available for free download from his website.


  1. ^ Jon Claerbout's web page
  2. ^ Stanford University directory
  3. ^ Society of Exploration Geophysicists Archived 2007-12-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Claerbout, Jon F.; Karrenbach, Martin (1992). "Electronic documents give reproducible research a new meaning": 601–604. doi:10.1190/1.1822162.