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Burton McCollum

Geophysicist. Born: 1880. Died: 1964.

Burton McCollum was a pioneer in sound-wave exploration and geophysics. He helped pioneer the use of seismography to drill for oil. McCollum was born on a farm near Fort Scott in 1880. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1903 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. As a college student, he was awarded his first of 11 electrical patents. During World War I he worked on sound ranging to locate artillery, which led to discoveries in sound-wave exploration and geophysics. He was responsible for the first producing oil well drilled on a location selected by use of seismology. McCollum held 15 geophysical patents. His last was in 1956 for Thumper, a tool still used to search for oil via seismic reflections.

Entry: McCollum, Burton

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: March 2013

Date Modified: March 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.