Ernest R. Kanasewich, a pioneer in the development of active source seismology as a tool in the exploration both of hydrocarbon resources and of the Earth's crust and upper-most mantle, died in Edmonton, Alberta, on June 19, 1998, at the age of 67.
Born in rural Saskatchewan, Ernie received his B.Sc. in physics at the University of Alberta in 1952. He was introduced to geophysics when hired as a seismologist at Geophysical Services Incorporated, a subsidiary of Texas Instruments. He worked in both Canada and the Middle East for 6 formative years, during which he gained considerable practical knowledge of the capabilities of seismic methods. He returned to the University of Alberta to complete an M.Sc. in physics in 1960 on gravity methods in the nascent geophysics program begun under George Garland. He obtained his Ph.D.with R.Don Russell in 1962 on newly developed methods of isotopic lead age dating. He took a record 2 years for his Ph.D. research, and the work even resulted in publications with implications for cosmology Ernie returned to the Department of Physics at the University of Alberta in 1963 as an assistant professor rising to full professor of physics in 1971. Aside from a 1-year sabbatical as a research associate professor at the Seismological Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, he remained at the University of Alberta until his retirement in 1996. Despite a severe pulmonary illness, Ernie continued his research and writing until the end. He was scheduled to present a scientific paper at the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists the day before his passing. He was heavily involved in the department, having served as the associate chair from 1967 to 1973 and as acting chair from 1973 to 1974. He served as chair over the very difficult period of severe funding cutbacks from 1991 to 1996. He was also director of the Institute of Geophysics, Meteorology, and Space Physics from 1991 to 1993.