Robert Lankston

Robert Lankston

Faculty Affiliate

Email: rlankston@geogrations.com

Current Position

Faculty Affiliate


  • GEO 491-X ST - Exploration Geophysics

Personal Summary

My grade school years were spent in east-central Illinois.  My family lived at the toe of the Bloomington moraine.  My grandfather operated a company that mined aggregates from the outwash plain south of the moraine.  In the 1960's, as the interstate highway system was being built, my grandfather's company provided all of the sand that was used in paving the stretch of highway from Champaign to Kankakee.  I saw a lot of interesting rocks in his gravel pits during my childhood.  He was ahead of his time in voluntarily reclaiming pits as they became uneconomical.  He developed home sites and recreational areas starting as early as the late 1940's..

My high school days were spent in the coal fields of eastern Kentucky and the karst country of southern Indiana. 

I started college intending to major in physics.  While taking an elective in geology, I realized that sand, gravel, coal, and karst, and a lot of other geological things were calling my name. My interest in geophysics was sparked when I took a geophysics course during my senior year.  Seismic methods became my primary interest the following summer when I worked on a seismic project in the Jefferson Basin near Whitehall, MT.



B.S., Geology, 1969, Indiana University

M.A., Geology (Geophysics focus), 1971, Indiana University

Ph.D., Geology (Geophysics focus), 1975, University of Montana

Research Interests

  • Application of reflection and refraction seismic methods in minerals exploration.


  • Maintenance of the Mansfield Library digital archive of the 1970 Flathead Lake seismic data and derivative works.
  • Mentoring students in processing and interpreting the 1970 Flathead Lake seismic data.
  • Research on the use of reflection seismic methods in hard rock exploration


Field of Study

  • Exploration Geophysics

Selected Publications

Lankston, R. W., 2011, New display of the 1970 Flathead Lake seismic data: Northwest Geology, v. 40, p. 55-62.

Lankston, R. W., 2007, Revisiting the 1970 Flathead Lake seismic survey: The Leading Edge, v. 26, n. 8, p. 1058-1063.

Lankston, R. W., 1990, High‑resolution refraction seismic data acquisition and interpretation, in Geotechnical and Environmental Geophysics, Volume 1: Review and Tutorial, S. Ward (ed.): Soc. Explor. Geophys., p. 45‑78.

Lankston, R. W., 1989, The seismic refraction method: a viable tool for mapping shallow targets into the 1990's: Geophysics, v. 54, n. 12, p. 1535‑1542.

Lankston, R. W., 1988, The 1987 Geophysical Field Exercise Final Report: University of Arkansas Department of Geology, 15 p.

Lankston, R. W., 1988, High resolution refraction seismic methods: Symposium on the Application of Geophysics to Engineering and Environmental Problems Proceedings, p. 349‑387.

Lankston, R. W., and Hecker, B. W., 1988, Enhancing VLF‑EM data through application of frequency domain operators: Nat. Water Well Assoc., Second National Outdoor Action Conference Proceedings, p. 655‑673.

Lankston, R. W., Lankston, M. M., Schmidt, C. J., Ahlert, M. A., Hecker, B. W., Kaplinski, M. A., and Spellman, J. L., 1987, A geophysical study at the intersection of two fault‑bounded Neogene basins in southwestern Montana: Final Report of the 1986 University of Arkansas Geophysical Field Exercise: University of Arkansas Department of Geology 37 p.

Lankston, R. W., and Lankston, M. M., 1986, Obtaining multilayer reciprocal times through phantoming: Geophysics, v. 51, p. 45‑49.

Lankston, R. W., and Lankston, M. M., 1986, The microcomputer: a low‑pass filter of the effects of economic trends for small geophysical contracting companies, in Microcomputer Applications in Geology, J. T. Hanley and D. F. Merriam (eds.): Computers and Geology, v. 5, Pergamon Press, p. 17‑30.

Lankston, R. W., and Lankston, M. M., 1985, Analysis of the T6S, R7W magnetic anomaly, southwestern Montana: Montana Bur. Mines and Geol. Open File Report #165, 21 p.

Lankston, R. W., Lankston, M. M, and West, L. M., 1985, Seismic reflection profiling in the Cedar River Basin, western Washington: Nat. Water Well Assoc., Surface and Borehole Geophysics Methods in Ground Water Investigation Conference Proceedings, p. 146‑164.

Lankston, R. W., and Lankston, M. M, 1983, An introduction to the utilization of the shallow or engineering seismic reflection method (3rd ed.): Geo‑Compu‑Graph, Inc., 37 p

Lankston, M. M., and Lankston, R. W., 1979, Integration of NURE and other data sets with emphasis on their utilization in generating exploration models in the Lubbock, TX 1o x 2o Quadrangle (GJBX‑135(79)): Bendix Field Eng. Corp., 169 p.

Lankston, R. W., and Lankston, M. M., 1978, Integration of engineering seismic reflection data with other geophysical data sets, preliminary evaluation: 16th Annual Idaho State Highway Dept. Eng. Geol. and Soils Eng. Symposium Proceedings, p. 365‑379.

Rudman, A. J., and Lankston, R. W., 1973, Stratigraphic correlation of well logs by computer techniques: Amer. Assoc. of Pet. Geol., Bull., v. 57, n. 3, p. 577‑588.

Specialized Skills

  • Shallow target refraction and reflection seismic methods

Teaching Experience

1980-81, University of Idaho.

  • General exploration geophysics.

1983-90, University of Arkansas

  • General exploration geophysics
  • Advanced gravity, magnetic, and seismic methods
  • Geophysical Field Exercise in Jefferson-Beaverhead Basins
  • Computer methods in geology

Part time 2008-2015, University of Montana

  • Seismic analysis in hydrocarbon exploration
  • General exploration geophysics

Professional Experience

1970, internship, Amax Coal, Indianapolis. 

  • Application of gravity and refraction seismic methods to Illinois Basin coal exploration.

1974-76, Gulf Research and Development Corporation (now Chevron), Houston. 

  • Gravity and magnetic methods in Gulf of Mexico and Rockies oil exploration

1976-78, post-doc, Washington State University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pullman. 

  • Application of surface geophysical methods to groundwater and uranium exploration in and around the Columbia Basin

1978-83, Geo-Compu-Graph, Inc., Spokane. 

  • Seismic surveying for placer gold, uranium, and groundwater exploration and environmental site evaluation.
  • Geophysics software development for microcomputers
  • Research in shallow target refraction and reflection seismic methods

1990-2006, Conoco and ConocoPhillips, Ponca City and Houston. 

  • Environmental geophysics
  • Environmental database management and GIS applications development
  • Seismic analysis
  • Geopressure interpretation and prediction software development and application and training
  • Gas hydrate research
  • Value of information modeling in North Sea oil development.

2006-13, Geoscience Integrations, Missoula. 

  • Gas hydrate exploration on the North Slope.

2013-present. Childs Geoscience, Inc., Bozeman. 

  • Research on reflection seismic applications in minerals exploration.



  • Society of Exploration Geophysicists, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Montana Geological Society
  • Co-founder and life member of the Tobacco Root Geological Society


Guitar playing, Amateur Radio operating, nature- and history-based touring by automobile, geophysical software development in Python