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UB geoscientist wins AAPG Eastern Section’s highest honor

By CHARLOTTE HSU

Published October 31, 2017

Robert Jacobi

Robert Jacobi, professor emeritus of geology, has received the John T. Galey Memorial Award from the Eastern Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).

The accolade — the highest honor that the section bestows — is “intended to recognize distinguished geoscientists whose outstanding accomplishments and contributions to (the) profession and its application have been directed toward the betterment of society.” The award consists of a medal and a unique, mounted geological specimen, and the chance to present the John T. Galey memorial address at the opening session of the section’s annual meeting.

Jacobi, a native of Olean, is a longtime member of the AAPG. The award honors him as an extraordinary teacher, geologist and mentor whose broad breadth of research, depth of knowledge and diversity of experiences has enriched the geoscience community of the Eastern Section of the AAPG. He has helped numerous young scientists establish their careers, and his scholarship has improved scientists’ understanding of the geology of the Eastern United States.  

He is an expert on geologic faults and fractures — an area of research with wide-ranging applications. Knowledge in this field is critical to understanding the environmental risks of landfill construction, radioactive waste disposal, salt mining and hydraulic fracturing. Information on faults and fractures also can inform decisions about where and how to proceed with such activities.

Early in his career, Jacobi’s work included adventures aboard various research vessels at sea, where he collected and analyzed data on the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, conducting research on seismic and sedimentary marine geology. He also studied terranes — geologically interesting regions bordered by faults on land — in Newfoundland, Canada. He later applied the knowledge he gained through these experiences to understanding the Appalachian orogen and the Appalachian Basin.

Over many years, Jacobi’s research helped to reveal the ubiquity and long-lived tectonic history of faults in the Northern Appalachian Basin. Among other contributions, he worked with students and colleagues — notably John Fountain and Charles Mitchell — to demonstrate the important role that faulting plays on both deposition and fluid migration in the basin’s development.

As a UB professor, Jacobi conducted research funded by many government agencies, including the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Geological Survey; environmental groups; and natural resource companies. He is presently a structural geology consultant for EQT in Pittsburgh.

Jacobi has co-authored hundreds of publications in peer-reviewed journals, books, abstracts and technical reports. He helped advise more than 100 master’s and PhD students at UB, where he has been a member of the geology faculty since 1980.