Lamont Weekly Report, July 2, 2010
I met John Diebold in the middle seventies, the time when he, along with Paul Stoffa and Peter Buhl and several others were convincing the world that all seismic structure problems could be solved with big airgun arrays, long hydrophone streamers, expanding spread profiles and tau-p space. At the time I remained conservatively entrenched in the old school of marine seismology, espousing the superior signal-to-noise ratios available when 500 pound charges of TNT were detonated. We shared a cabin for two months in 1979 aboard the Conrad in the Eastern Pacific during the ill-fated ROSE experiment and had many discussions about the pros and cons of various approaches to marine seismics.
In terms of practical knowledge about active marine seismology I would claim that there was no-one else in the world with such breadth and understanding as John. Especially on the subject of airgun array design and source signatures he was the 'to' in all of international academia.
But the reason for his popularity was not the mountain of knowledge and experience that he so freely shared, it was because of his wonderful personality. He was warm, congenial, open and honest - always with a smile and a joke to bring light to the darkest day. He loved his music and I loved listening to him play. I will never forget a Halloween a couple of years ago listening to him with his band at the Turning Point in Piermont.
He joined Lamont in 1967 when he got a job in the Machine Shop and 13 years later got his Ph.D. In his ~43 year long career here (excepting a brief sojourn with Gulf Oil in the 80's) he has contributed tremendously to the institution - our reputation as a leader in multichannel seismic data acquisition has been built to a great extent upon John. He will be missed in so many ways, by so many folks around the world. Not only because this fountain of readily available knowledge and advice is lost, but because a great friend and advisor and supporter will no longer be here to help us.
Greg Mountain called me early this morning and told me that John had died yesterday at his home in Nyack. I was heartbroken. He was a beautiful person - the world just can't afford to lose him. I will miss him so much - TG will never be the same.
I know nothing about arrangements right now - when I do I will surely pass them on.
PS - If you have the misfortune not to know John D. then take a moment and go to his web site - read about his science and about his music, about his times as a DJ, look at the design for juggling bean bags, his chili recipe, and his eloquent explanations of airgun source characteristics - and then in some very small way you will have the measure of the man. www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~johnd/