The 6th RPI for July-August 2016: Serge Shapiro

Professor of Geophysics at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

About the influencer

Serge A. Shapiro is a full Professor of Geophysics at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, and since 2004, Director of the PHASE (PHysics and Application of Seismic Emission) university consortium project.  His research interests include seismogenic processes, wave phenomena, seismic exploration and rock physics. 

Serge received his Diploma (a Russian equivalent to the Master degree) in Applied Geophysics from Lomonosov Moscow State University (1982) and his PhD (1987) from Moscow Research Institute VNIIGeosystem. The central topic of his PhD was the attenuation of seismic waves due to scattering and absorption in heterogeneous rocks.  

In 1991-97 he continued this research at the Geophysical Institute of Karlsruhe University in Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt-fellow, a research geophysicist,  and finally, as a Heisenberg fellow. Serge was a member of the group of Professor Peter Hubral, who in 1995 created the Wave Inversion Technology project – the first German Seismic-Exploration university consortium.  Serge was one of PIs of this project till 2006.  

In Karlsruhe Serge’s research concentrated on seismic wave scattering and propagation in random 3-D heterogeneous and layered medium. One of results of this work was a generalized theory of the classical O’Doherty-Anstey formula describing propagation effects of seismic stratigraphic filtering by thinly layered sediments.   In 1995 Serge received for these works his State Doctorate (the so-called German Habilitation) from the Physical Department of the Karlsruhe University. 

In 1997-99 he joined the Geological School of the National Polytechnic Institute (INPL) in Nancy, France as the university Professor of Applied Geophysics. He cooperated closely with the group of Professor Jean-Laurent Mallet, who created a very famous university consortium project GOCAD. Since February 1999, Serge has been a full Professor of Geophysics at the Freie Universität Berlin. 

In 1997, already in Karlsruhe, Serge started his research on the physics of fluid-induced seismicity. 
In 2004 in Berlin, he created the university consortium project PHASE, which was internationally the first university-consortium project concentrated on microseismic monitoring, hazard-  and rock-physics of induced seismicity. From 2001 till 2008 Serge was one of the Coordinators of the German Continental Deep Drilling (KTB) Program and a PI of the third large-scale fluid-extraction/injection experiment at the KTB.  

In addition to the research on fluid-induced seismicity other contributions of the Serge’s group like  the solid-substitution generalization of the Gassmann equation, piezosensitivity of porous and fractured rocks and the porosity-deformation approach for  stress-dependent elastic anisotropy are  well known. 

Serge is a member of AGU, DGG, EAGE and SEG. For his works in microseismic monitoring and rock physics he received from SEG the Best Paper Award (2002) and the Virgil Kauffman Gold Medal (2013). In 2004 he was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.

Your pathway for success in becoming a well known name in the rock physics community

The science of rock physics is a very interesting field. In my research work I do mainly what I find interesting to do. I try to do this in a way understandable and useful for others and for me. The rock physics is important for different brunches of industry.  I try to do what is relevant for the industry and think about possible applications.  

Challenges you see in moving rock physics to the next level 
(This can be unresolved issues in rock physics in general or in a particular field you are working on)

There are many challenges. One of the most interesting and important seems to me the predicting permeability using geophysical parameters (e.g., seismic velocities and/or electric resistivity). Actually, this point was very motivating for me in the work on fluid-induced seismicity. Spatial-temporal growth of clouds of fluid-induced micro-earthquakes contains unique information on the rock permeability. This is still insufficiently used in microseismic monitoring.    

A closely related challenging research direction is to really combine the rock physics with geophysical exploration and with the reservoir characterization, and, of course, especially, for understanding the unconventional hydrocarbons (shale gas and shale oil). 

Another interesting and challenging field is to use rock physics for various near-surface geo-technological applications. 

Advice for early career scientists (rock physicists, geophysicists, etc.)

There are many great scientists and great names in the rock-physics community.
I have tried to learn from them. Here big conferences (e.g., EAGE, SEG, SPE) and also various smaller workshops are very helpful. Good talks by great experts can be very useful to attend, even if you do not understand a lot. An understanding will come with time, later, and frequently, along with own original and interesting ideas. 

The rock physics has a lot of to do with real world and real nature. To look at rocks, to enhance your geological, physical, mathematical and computer-science skills is a key to success.  

We thank Serge for his continuous contributions to the rock physics community.