Canada is known as a centre of excellence in mining geophysics, and much of the credit for this achievement goes to Harold Seigel, an extraordinary geophysicist who conceived and pioneered several new methods of mineral exploration. Today, he is best known for the broad and successful line of geophysical instruments marketed worldwide under the Scintrex label, a company he founded in 1967.
Seigel has been called “a prospector at heart”, and the description is fitting as his efforts have contributed to the discovery of at least nine mines in Canada and abroad. As well, the vast proportion of the Scintrex equipment catalogue is still geared to mining exploration applications.
Seigel was born in Toronto, Ontario. He obtained his Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Toronto in 1949, with his doctoral thesis encompassing the pioneering development of the Induced Polarization method.
Seigel’s entrepreneurial nature took him to the private sector where, following a period with Newmont, he formed a geophysical consulting business in 1956.
During the past forty years, Seigel has made significant contributions to the science of mining geophysics in a number of fields. He conceived and pioneered the development of two new methods of mineral exploration, Induced Polarization and Time-Resolved Photoluminescence, and was closely involved in the development of at least six other geophysical exploration methods. He has been granted 21 patents in six countries, all on developments in mineral exploration technology.
Those who know Seigel well, say that what distinguishes his work from that of other innovative scientists is his insistence on a mathematical-physical basis for his methods. He was able, with due regard to natural geologic disorder, to develop simple and workable models that have been applied successfully to a wide variety of geologic terrains.
Seigel’s accomplishments led to industry acclaim. In 1985, he was awarded the J. Tuzo Wilson Medal of the Canadian Geophysical Union, and in 1986, he won the Distinguished Service Award of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. In 1987, he was presented with the A.O. Dufresne Award of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, “in recognition of his distinguished scientific achievements and outstanding service to the geoscience community in the field of theoretical and applied geophysics”.
During his career, Seigel maintained the profile of a man true to his profession; busy on the lecture circuit, active in industry affairs, and a willing and reliable participant on government and university committees. His record of achievement in both the technical and business areas of mining is almost without parallel. It is a rare individual who can be as prolific in innovation and application and, at the same time, successfully pilot a business through the notoriously stormy cycles of mineral exploration.
Seigel retired as president of Scintrex in 1993, but remains a full-time research director and Chairman of the Board.