Silver Jubilee Forum, Vol 25.4

Silver Jubilee Forum – The Future of Near-Surface Geophysics in the US

Contribute to the Forum – send contributions to :

German Ojeda
Editor-in-Chief, FastTIMES

Why a Silver Jubilee Forum?

FastTIMES is in its 25th Year (Silver Jubilee) as an online publication and coincidentally so too are JEEG and NAOC celebrating a 25 year milestone. It is also the year of COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying lockdowns. It is as if Mother Nature and the Lords of Karma have “sent us all to our rooms to think about what we have just done” for the last century or so, on so many levels of being. It has reminded us that “we are all in this together” and there is a talk of an “existential crisis” and a “new normal” that might emerge once this pandemic is bested.

What will be the new normal for the US NSG community I wonder? Will it mean something more fundamental than just greater use of virtual gatherings, or will it be business as usual (the “same-old same-old”)? So how in these introspective, crisis-laden times, can we make a fitting tribute to FastTIMES and the future of our NSG profession in the Silver Jubilee? I can think of no better way to celebrate the 25 years, than to devote this year and this period of enforced reflection in 2020 going into 2021, to having a Silver Jubilee Forum: a series of essays being opinion pieces from various contributors (both invited and those who want to contribute to this Forum). The Forum will encourage and be the vehicle for, us to be pausing, reflecting and taking stock of where we are as a US

NSG community, how we are travelling and where are we going, not just EEGS but the entire community of the three US-based NSG professional Societies: SEG NSTS, AGU NS and EEGS, plus the US-based members of EAGE NSGD and the NSG members of National SEG & EAGE Chapters.

The Jubilee Forum is planned to cover our future NSG science with its capabilities and its limitations, technological development opportunities and the way we, as NSG scientists operate and organize ourselves as a NSG community going forward (both globally and in the US), within the global geophysics sector and within the broader geoscience and geo-engineering community of endusers of NSG geophysics.

A very modest start to this taking stock process was the planned SAGEEP 2020 Wednesday April 1 lunchtime one-hour Panel Discussion, chaired by Mark Dunscomb, Conference Chair on “Near Surface Geophysics’ Future in North America” (see page 58 of FastTIMES Vol 25, 1). The scope of this topic and opinions held about our future directions are so broad that they could fill the pages of many editions of this Silver Jubilee Forum and the Forum will better ground us all for this postponed short public gathering at SAGEEP 2021. Your contributions and ideas are welcomed, and hopefully we’ll together turn Silver into Gold through the pages of this Forum.

Please contact me if you have thoughts to contribute or some alchemical actions to advocate. Address emailed contributions to Geoff Pettifer, Editor-in-Chief,


Silver Jubilee Forum – The Future of Near-Surface in the US

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this opinion letter represent those of the author, and do not reflect the position of the Environmental and Engineering Geophysical Society or any of the other organizations mentioned.

A Call for US NSG Community Unity

Geoff Pettifer

Introduction– the Status Quo: US NSG Disunity – Tri-Governance Model

This op-ed summarizes my personal views and advocacy of the case for unity, as soon as possible, of the US NSG community. For a copy of a more complete op-ed article backgrounding the history/ issues and building the case for USG NSG unity, please contact me at As the US dramas and challenges of 2020 tragically show, disunity and division are costly. Less dramatic, but in my view, important to address, is the disunity of the estimated ~2000 strong US NSG profession in the US with three below-critical-mass, US-based NSG “tribes” (SEG NSTS – ~700 members; EEGS, ~400; AGU NS ~800) plus EAGE ~600 US members, each with a common mission and challenges, “competing” / claiming to represent, advance and promote NSG science in the US.

Being meticulous and focused in our science, but fragmented in our governance, I contend, is costly to our professional standing, credibility and the effectiveness of our advocacy and outreach in getting our NSG workflows adopted in the mainstream, to the extent resource exploration geophysics has attained. US NSG, in developmental terms has an “adolescent” governance model:  a “parental” SEG O&G “dominant” culture, and three “sibling rivals” (SEG NSTS, EEGS, AGU NS). The SEG business model has overseen SEG membership decline from >30,000 in 2014 to 13,000 today and NSG governance fragmentation, with the 1992 breakaway of EEGS to establish an US NSG culture and assets and later the 2004 departure of NSG academics to AGU NS.

By contrast EAGE (~19,000 members including ~5000 NSG members), now larger than SEG, is steadily growing, because, in 2003, recognizing the nexus and separate culture/economics / value of NSG/minerals compared to O&G and the need to forestall any US-like NSG fragmentation, EAGE adopted from the start, a successful, “adult”, bi-divisional governance / business model with strong, separately governing O&G and NS / minerals geoscience divisions (OGGD and NSGD). The two “adults” remain free to separately develop fit-for-purpose professional cultures and to pursue strategies in their very different market sectors. NSG academics have stayed with EAGE and have not gone to the EGU.

US NSG Unity – Advantages and Features

For the benefit of improvement of SEG business fortunes and NSG reputation, global NSG “balance” and for the sake of US NSG unity and stature, I argue for SEG to adopt the more successful EAGE bi- divisional governance model (SEG OGD and SEG NSGD) and as in EAGE NSGD, for all US minerals / NSG stakeholders (SEG Minerals, SEG NSTS, EEGS and AGU NS) to unite, under SEG NSGD. Who will step-up to provide leadership and spearhead this unification? Advantages of US NSG unity in a bi-divisional SEG include:

  • Improved status of US NSG as one united profession and SEG NS credibility in the built and natural environment. SEG can better match globally the EAGE business approach to NSG.
  • Adopting the EAGS NS geoscience (including geophysics) membership model could see the US NS community grow to >5000 NS focused geoscientists, a stronger cohesive unit with critical mass for focused strategic engagement with the multitude of much larger geoscience and geo-engineering research and applied focused societies (an estimated >75,000 estimated geo-professionals in aggregate), in the target NSG end-user groundwater, geotechnical, infrastructure, geological, natural and built environment, mining/minerals, agriculture, archaeology etc. sectors that are serviced by NSG.
  • A move from a “tribal surviving” to “community thriving” focus.
  • Great outreach and target sector workflow development, with inter-society specialist multi-disciplinary committees targeting key sustainability issues and NSG research priorities.
  • Greater support for EEGS and its volunteers and growth for its three key US NSG assets – JEEG, SAGEEP and FastTIMES. More focus on the science than not-for-profit survival for EEGS.
  • As in EAGE a stronger research/applied NS geophysics symbiosis rather than separation, with improved service to AGU and a research integrated basis for commercial NSG practitioners.
  • Blending of the best of NSG cultures of the three NSG tribes and their different approaches to the NSG mission.
  • A larger SAGEEP, less duplication of effort / support / administration, less inward and more end-user focused conferences, more volunteer energy for outreach and strategic science focus.
  • Creative associate member options and alliances possibilities.

An action plan for US NSG Unity to start now

With goodwill and tribal agendas / egos / baggage set aside, US NSG unification could start NOW with the following staged plan.

  • US NSG tribal members start talking up unity and lobbying our NSG tribal leaders for action and a unity task force.
  • US NSG tribal leaders meet soon to form a unity task force.
  • Joint SEG NSTS / EEGS / AGU NS online forum on US NSG unity, the history and disunity issues, lessons learned, pros /cons of unity, differences, commonalities and possibilities.
  • With all US NSG members informed by the forum, design and conduct a poll of ALL members (SEG/EEGS/AGU/EAGE) to understand the US NSG demographic and their diversity.
  • Using the poll results, a plan and a strong business case can be made for unity. The Task force can take it to the US NSG members and then in a unified fashion to the SEG Board, EEGS and AGU, working to a deadline and risk management plan.
  • Work together as a “unity” in the interim, until unity  occurs.

Unity is both a dream and imperative for maturity of our NSG profession in the US, if we work together to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Join me in building the momentum.

Transforming the Mining Industry through R&D

Angela Reed
AR Consulting Brisbane, Queensland Australia

Amira Global has been shaping mining practices through pre- competitive transformational R&D projects around the world for more than 60 years. CEO Jacqui Coombes attributes its outstanding success to collaboration.

When Dr Coombes took the reins in 2019 her focus was on building on Amira’s collaborative history.

“Amira has a 60-year history of delivering through collaborations. At the heart of our intent is to be purposeful in every engagement so that our collaborations bring positive and constructive outcomes for every party involved – for today and  beyond,”  Dr Coombes said.

“Amira’s core purpose has always been to build collaborations that best serve our Members to advance our industry. We have renewed our commitment to the focus of those collaborations, specifically to bring together industry and research collaborators to focus on the key breakthroughs that can drive transformation across our industry and to the benefit of society.”

Transforming industry and organisation

A well-known and respected industry leader, Dr Coombes has undertaken changes to the Amira brand in line with the transforming mining sector, including a name change.

“This year Amira developed three operational  critical  missions  to enable the organisation to deliver on its purpose, which is to enhance, sustain and deliver transformational research and development innovation and implementation to the benefit of society,” Dr Coombes said.

“We also developed four guiding principles and underwent a revision of our brand. We aspire to be a partner of choice that excels in the purposeful delivery of collaborative research and development, innovation, and implementation.

“Our new logo features a globe with a pathway; this represents the path forged in our globe and signals our aspiration to facilitate pathways for future resources, future mining and future processing.”

Tackling mining challenges

Amira’s operational missions of thought leadership, collaboration and pathways to implementation shape the organisation’s work.

“Our focus is on delivery of large scale, transformative, pre-competitive R&D+I2 to drive breakthroughs that could transform our industry. We want to build global collaborations to deliver innovation at key technological breakthrough points,” Dr Coombes said.

“Our Futures Programs allows our ecosystem to work together in framing efficient pathways to address and unlock the transformations required,” she said.

Taking a systems-of-systems approach, Amira is working with its Members to develop the Futures Programs to target priorities. The organisation is also working across stakeholder groups on developing an ecosystem approach to tackle delivery of industry breakthroughs.

“As a sector we understand that the world is facing inevitable growth pressures, which come at a time when there is growing demand to meet the UN’s sustainability development goals, a blue print for a more sustainable future for all,” Dr Coombes said.

“The Amira Futures Programs allows Members to process their ores and develop their final product with increased awareness, management and sensitivity to environmental and social considerations. The integrated approach in the Amira Futures Programs ensures programs and projects address the critical discipline sciences within the context of our industry’s mega challenges such a tailings, water and energy.”

Guiding principle: global collaboration for Impact

Amira works closely with international organisations such as ICMM, GMG, CEMI, METS Ignited, Business France, Business Sweden, and SIP-STRIM (now called Swedish Mining Innovation).

“True to our principle of ‘Global Collaboration for Impact’, we seek to ensure all our programs align with global standards and expectations, and to inform global opportunities. They are designed to include knowledge translation,” Dr Coombes said.

“I am proud of the Amira team’s approach to the researcher and solution provider communities. They have an enduring respect  for  the  researchers  and  solution providers; delight in

the researchers’ achievements; and relish the opportunity to help translate these to project Sponsors.

“Collectively, it foretells another successful sixty years of transformational research and development, innovation and implementation to the benefit of the mining sector and society.”

Amira Global
Level 2, 271 William St Melbourne
VIC 3000 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8636 9999

Author Bio

Angela Reed
AR Consulting Brisbane, Queensland Australia

Angela Reed is a highly experienced public relations and marketing communications consultant based in Brisbane, Australia. She has more than 25 years’ experience in media, government and industry communications; her speciality is the mining and mining supply sector. She established AR Consulting in 2019.

Women in the Mining Industry Profile: Sabina Shugg AM

  • Director – Kalgoorlie Campus, Curtin University including the WA School of Mines.
    • Non-Executive Director of Resolute Mining Ltd
    • Chair of Goldfields Esperance Development Commission, Western Australia.
    • Founder of Women in Mining WA

Moira Poje

Inspirational Mining

If you have witnessed Sabina Shugg AM speak at a conference, you may have heard the introduction: “I’m Sabina the miner, not Sabina the ballerina.” Sabina has led an accomplished career in the mining industry from starting at Jubilee Mine without a post-secondary education to now sitting as the director of the Kalgoorlie Campus of Curtin University with a mining engineering degree and MBA under her belt. She is currently serving as a Non-Executive

Director on the board of Resolute Mining, Chair of the Goldfields- Esperance Development Commission, and is on the board of the Australian Prospectors & Miner’s Hall of Fame. Sabina has been awarded Member of the General Division to the Order of Australia in 2015 for her advocacy work on behalf of women in mining.

Sabina has extensive experience in supervisory roles and in empowering women to continue their careers in the mining industry. While working as a mining engineer at Newcrest Mining (Figure 1), Sabina noted that the mining industry in Australia lacked a true support system for female miners like herself, so in 2003, she decided to start one. Women in Mining Western Australia (WIMWA) was founded as a small group that hosted monthly meetings to bring women together to stave off the isolation that they might feel in the industry (Figure 3). In this sense it was a grassroots organization that focused on retaining women in the field by using “the smell of an oily rag approach” to grow participation. As the group expanded it attracted the attention of management at mining companies in Western Australia and now WIMWA runs a mentorship program, a diverse boardroom series, and hosts an annual summit each September. The organization started with an excel sheet of contacts, an annual calendar of events and a host to foot the snacks bill. WIMWA now has grown to 1200 attendees at the annual summit.

Figure 1. Sabina Shugg as a young mining engineer at Rosebery Mine, Tasmania

Mining Education

Sabina is investing in the growth of the industry, the training of new graduates, and the shaping of the future of mining. At her new position of director at Curtin (Figure 2), she has a vested interest of the industry in training the next generation of miners. She mentions “the mining industry has a skill shortage. We haven’t had enough industry engagement to run the school and the campus and we’re hoping [new industry involvement] will reverse the brain drain.” She says that the cyclic nature of the mining industry causes a similar cyclic pattern of mining graduates. Sabina sees that “mining education has been at risk for many years due to the gaps in the commodities cycle.” Lack of mining industry investment during a commodities crisis causes university programs to cut funding for mining coursework. In turn, inadequate numbers of graduates enter the industry when the cycle recovers. As a representative of the industry perspective serving in an academic role, she hopes to guide curricula to teach diverse data-savvy skills which will help graduates both have opportunities within the mining industry and flexibility in the case of a downturn.

Figure 2. Curtin University – School of Mines campus, Kalgoorlie

“We’re lucky to have a campus in Kalgoorlie where students can meet a lot of industry people,” says Sabina, “It’s important to be talking to people in different parts of the industry to figure out what [a young miner] can do.” In this way, young persons interested in the mining industry can seek out opportunities and can be flexible in the trajectories of their careers.

Figure 3. Sabina Shugg addresses a Women in Mining Western Australia gathering. Forums like the ~3000 strong WIMWA are Influential in shaping new futures for women in the mining industry and new attitudes in general.

The Future of Mining

Sabina highlights positive changes within the industry: flexible workplaces, greater acceptance of people for who they are, and increased efforts to have good environmental and social outcomes on projects.

She also sees a greater focus on mental health awareness, especially in Australia. “Once upon a time it was not very blokey to talk about mental health,” says Sabina. “Now, more men talk to each other about those issues, which is  a  good outcome  of having more diverse team of people to create more open environments for discussion.” Sabina highlights improvements in structural areas of the industry as well. In one case, a mine site made a few adjustments to a drill rig to eliminate the need for heavy lifting. The drill rig was then able to accommodate  an all-female drilling crew. “By removing structural and social boundaries, we open up the mining industry to all people

– not all men are burly types.” And thus, the few structural adjustments to the drill rig benefits the whole team and the future growth of that sector.

As part of the WIMWA investment in the future, they have worked with larger companies to put a Diverse Boardroom Series together to “not shove in people’s faces, but to facilitate introductions.” This strategy allows women and executives at mining companies to network and expand their ideas about who to employ and where to hire from. Participating in many roles within the mining industry has given Sabina an appreciation for the range of opportunities that the field has to offer. Giving back makes sense to her. Shugg says: “There are lots of

opportunities in the mining industry – why shouldn’t they be  for women?”

There is evidence that in the industry, thanks to the lead set by women like Sabina, women are increasingly contributing to the mining sector. Recently published data on gender diversity in ASX listed mining companies from the Mining Journal  (Figure

  • shows that progress is being made. The future for women in mining at leadership level is growing brighter and this can only have a flow-on effect for gender diversity in the mining ranks.

Moira Poje

Figure 4. Women in mining leadership positions – ASX listed companies
Source: gender-diversity-leaders