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R.H. Burton Geophysics Films (1931-1953)

Bettie G. Burton

Silent | 1931 - 1953

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  •  Here a geophysical crew member is burying a geophone which is a seismic detector. Next a dynamite charge is set off which generates shock waves that are reflected from sub-surface formations and detected by the geophones which send them to a seismograph to be recorded on photographic paper. These records were then used to create maps giving explorers for oil a picture of underground formations. 
  •  Man sliding on ice is A. P. "Tony" Mehringer. 
  •  Here R. H. Burton is using a hand-crank to run the recording paper through the seismograph. 
  •  Tony Mehringer is seen here running toward the camera. 
  •  Crew member here is burying the dynamite. 
  •  R. H. Burton at right in white shirt and tie is examining the record. 
  •  Location of this footage is an area near Monahans, Texas, which is now part of the Sandhills State Park. 
  •  There wasn't always a windmill tower that could be used in surveying, so Burton built this portable folding tower. 
  •  Crew member laying geophone cable. 
  •  Beginning of Burton Exploration Company 
  •  Drilling of the discovery well for the Headlee Field in Ector County, near Odessa, Texas. 
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  • About the video
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This film is a compilation of footage from West Texas, East Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas shot by Raiford Harold (R.H.) Burton from 1931-1953. Most of the footage is of teams working for Amerada Petroleum Corporation where Burton was party chief, heading geophysical crews through 1946. In 1948, R.H. Burton founded the Burton Geophysical Company which was responsible for the 1953 Headlee oil discovery in Ector County, Texas, about 5 miles outside of Odessa, Texas in the Permian Basin. The Headlee discovery remains a major and historic oil field, and footage of the discovery is included in this video, which shows scenes of crews surveying, stringing cable for and burying geophones, shooting dynamite, recording shock waves, drilling and operating rigs.

Raiford Harold Burton was born on October 7, 1907 in Magnolia, Arkansas. He attended Southern State College (now Southern Arkansas University) before moving to Texas to do extension work at the University of Texas. Before entering the geophysics field, he served in the United States Navy and worked as a radio operator for the Radio Corporation of America in the late 1920s. Burton left RCA in 1929 to join Geophysical Research Corporation. From there he moved to the Amerada Petroleum Corporation where he quickly rose to the rank of party chief, heading geophysical crews throughout the U.S., most notably in the Permian Basin and the Gulf Coast of Texas. Burton left Amerada in 1946 and founded the Burton Geophysical Company in 1948. The company was successful in making several important petroleum discoveries, including the Headlee Field in Ector County, Texas, about 5 miles outside of Odessa, Texas in the Permian Basin. The Headlee discovery remains a major and historic oil field. Burton continued field work with his company in Texas and surrounding states until he retired for health reasons in 1958. He remained a member of the Board of Directors until his death in 1962. His legacy stays alive through the Raiford H. Burton Memorial SEG Scholarship fund for geophysics students and young professionals.