Conrad Schlumberger

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Conrad Schlumberger (* 2 October 1878 in Gebweiler, Alsace; † 9 May 1936 in Stockholm) was a French geophysicist and geologist. The Schlumberger process was named after him.


Conrad Schlumberger came from a successful family dynasty from Alsace (at that time Reichsland Alsace-Lorraine), whose roots go back to the 16th century from the Swabian region of Ulm. The family was of Protestant faith and had pro-French sympathies.

The father, Paul Schlumberger, is a descendant of a family that became notable, among others, during industrialization, through Nicolas Schlumberger, who in 1812 founded a spinning mill specializing in the production of fine spun cotton threads[1].

The mother, Marguerite Schlumberger, née de Witt, was the daughter of Conrad de Witt, deputy from Calvados, and granddaughter of the politician François Guizot, member of the Académie française, minister under Louis-Philippe. Philanthropist and feminist, she was very involved in associations supporting prostitutes from their situation. A suffragiste, she presided over the International League for Women’s Rights(ligue internationale des droits de la femme). A museum is dedicated to the couple in their mother’s château at Crèvecœur-en-Auge.[2] Her present descendants The Seydoux dynasty are direct descendants of her mother.

Six siblings were born of the marriage, which took place in 1876:

  • 1877 Paul Conrad Nicolas“Jean” Schlumberger, publisher and founder of the Nouvelle Revue française.
  • 1878 François Conrad, engineer
  • 1879 Léon Théodore“Daniel“, engineer and manager of the Val-Richer family winery, deceased in 1915; married Fanny de Turckheim (1880-1965)
  • 1883 Henriette Alsa“Pauline“, marries Albert Doll, diploma architect of the école nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris
  • 1884 Henri Émile “MarcelSchlumberger, École centrale de Paris, then engineer with the French railway SNCF. Co-inventor of one of the first tanks. Grandfather of the Seydoux dynasty.
  • 1886 Charles Philippe “Maurice Schlumberger“, founder of the bank of the same name, today Neuflize OBC


Conrad spent his youth in Guebwiller. As the family had opted for French nationality, he attended the traditional Lycée Condorcet from 1893. After graduating from high school, he took two years of preparatory classes at the Lycée Saint-Louis to study at two French grandes écoles, the prestigious École polytechnique in Paris (he finished second in his class) and the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines, becoming a state mining engineer in 1904

He entered the service as a mining engineer in Rodez and was transferred to Toulouse in 1905. In 1906, he was appointed professor of physics at the École nationale supérieure des mines de Saint-Étienne, a post he held until 1914. From 1907, he held the same post at the École Supérieure des Mines in Paris. In 1912, Conrad discovered the relationship between electrical potential and the occurrence of mineral substances. He first verified his discovery in the laboratory of the Ecole des Mines by means of a bathtub in which he recreated layers of earth and set to work to deepen his findings. The process was later named after him. As part of his activities, he undertook study trips around the world. In 1914, for example, he mapped pyrite bodies near Bor in Serbia using self-potential measurement on the earth’s surface.

The First World War, during which he served as an officer in the artillery, interrupted this career, although he received the honour of Officier de la Légion d’honneur in 1916. Immediately after the war he was commissioned in 1918 to redesign the Alsace-Lorraine and Saarland mines as chief engineer, then a year later he returned to the École Supérieure des Mines as professor of physics, where he worked on applied geophysics. Now he wrote his thesis on his work and methodology 6 years late.

From 1919 onwards, with the financial support of his father, he and his brother Marcel Schlumberger were able to work scientifically on the implementation of the method and developed a mobile measuring apparatus for borehole sounding(wireline logging method). They set up a studio and business premises at Crèvecœur-en-Auge, where the Schlumberger Foundation is based today. Together with Marcel, he carried out experimental work around the world. In 1923, Conrad Schlumberger left the teaching profession to devote himself entirely to the promising field of applied geophysics

In 1926, he and Marcel founded an engineering firm, Société de Prospection Électrique, 42, rue Saint-Dominique in Paris, which is now the world’s largest oil and gas exploration company under the name Schlumberger Limited. On September 5, 1927, the brothers carried out the world’s first borehole survey based on electrical resistance on rig 7 southeast of Dieffenbach-lès-Wœrth near Merkwiller-Pechelbronn in Alsace. The first clients were the USA and the USSR in 1930

This was followed in 1931 by the foundation of CGG(Compagnie générale de géophysique) and in 1934 of the “Schlumberger Well Surveying Corporation” in Houston, USA.

In 1936 he died prematurely in Stockholm, on his return from a business trip to Russia. Marcel took over the management of the company.

In 1904 he married Louise Delpech, from Clairac (Lot-et-Garonne). He is the father of

  • Anne (1905-1993), founder of theBibliothèque pour enfants de Clamart (library for children ofClamart); married the French-US scientist Henri George Doll (1902-1991)
  • Dominique (1908-1998), philanthropist, founder of the Menil Collection and the Rothko Chapel in Houston; married French nobleman Jean (John) de Ménil (1904-1973) entrepreneur, philanthropist, and art collector.
  • Sylvie (1912-1999), founder of the Flaine winter ski resort, with her husband, Éric Boissonnas (1913-2005), geophysicist.


  • Tour de forage. The monument was erected in 2005 in Dieffenbach-lès-Wœrth in and has the shape of a derrick. It commemorates the borehole survey of 1927 and is dedicated to the two brothers.
  • The Conrad Schlumberger Award, a science prize of the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE)

Web links

Individual references

  1. The Schlumberger family.In: VirtualMuseum of Protestantism. Fondation pasteur Eugène Bersier, accessed 21 January 2018.
  2. Une famille… un musée.In: Châteaude Crèvecoeur. Fondation Musée Schlumberger, accessed 21 January 2018 (French, English).