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Special Session: In Honor of Dr. Albert W. Bally

Special Session

Monday, 8 June 2020, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.  |  Houston, Texas

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Late in July 2019, the geocommunity lost one of its icons. Dr. Albert W. Bally passed away at the age of 94 after a long career that not only helped usher in the era of integrated geology and geophysics as applied to exploration, but also gifted the industry with his influence on numerous students and colleagues.

It is impossible to exaggerate the impact that Bert has had not only on the petroleum industry but also on the broad spectrum of the earth sciences. From his numerous highly influential publications to his many colleagues and the multitude of his students, the worldwide influence that Bert exerted is legendary. He touched many lives in professional ways, but also was a great friend to many. He received guests from everywhere, and along the way was invited to visit every corner of the earth, including being one of the earliest western geologists to visit the Peoples’ Republic of China. His counsel was in demand constantly. Insofar as he had an encyclopedic knowledge of regional geology, his biggest legacy will be the marriage of regional geology, seismic reflection data, maps, cross sections, and the concept of restoration in all its ramifications. There were many awards including the William Smith Medal from Geological Society of London, the Gustav Steinmann Medal from the Geologische Vereinigung, the Sidney Powers Medal from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and the Offshore Technology Conference Career Contribution Award for Structural Geology.

Born to Dutch and Swiss parents, Bert spent his youth in pre- WWII fascist Italy, but moved to Switzerland for the war years themselves. He returned to Italy to complete his Ph.D. field work while at the University of Zurich, after which he did post-doctoral studies at Lamont-Doherty. In 1954 he joined Shell in Canada where he began to make his first marks in the profession with a seminal publication by himself, Gordy, and Stewart in 1966 on thrust geometries of the North American Cordillera. That paper not only married seismic work to the field but also laid part of the foundation for what might be called a ‘revolution’ in understanding thrust geology. He moved to Shell’s lab in Houston and rose through several chief geologist and consulting roles within the company, during which he conceptually guided Shell into the era of offshore exploration, sparking some of the earliest modern understanding of the Gulf of Mexico and salt tectonics. He was fond of the idea of an atlas and, in 1975 with Cook published the Stratigraphic Atlas of North and Central America at Princeton University Press. In 1981 he assumed the Harry Carothers Wiess Professor of Geology in The Department of Geology and Geophysics at Rice University, which he maintained all the way to his death. Shortly after formally entering the academic world, he continued his Atlas work with AAPG’s Seismic Atlases of structural and stratigraphic style in reflection data. As department head at Rice, he was instrumental in the resuscitation of the department. He was the Centennial President of the Geological Society of America in 1988 and played a formative godfather-like role in the Decade of North American Geology volumes, a compilation of the geology of the continent—a sourcebook to this day.

The Petroleum and Geomechanics Division is proud to dedicate two oral and two poster sessions to the memory of Dr. Bally, organized and chaired by some of his numerous students and mentorees. The papers are a collection of submissions, many of which were specifically aimed at this memorial. We hope the community enjoys the result and finds the content interesting and useful. May you rest in peace, Bert—your work is done. 


  • Monday Morning Poster Session
    • Theme 4: Special Session: Basin Systems and Evolution: Tribute to Albert W. Bally
  • Monday Afternoon Oral Session
    • Theme 4: Special Session: From Salt to Orogenic Belts: A Tribute to the Career of Albert W. Bally
  • Monday Afternoon Poster Session
    • Theme 4: Special Session: Structure Styles, Unusual Reservoirs, and Influences on Deformation: Tribute to Albert W. Bally
  • Tuesday Morning Oral Session
    • Theme 4: Special Session: GOM, Caribbean, and Gondwana Continental Margins and Ocean Basins: A Tribute to Albert W. Bally


Included with registration


Special Session: In Honor of Dr. Albert W. Bally
George R. Brown Convention Center
1001 Avenida De Las Americas
Houston, Texas 77010
United States
(713) 853-8000