Mathematical Geophysics Tribute

Kody Kramer (1985–2018)

His vision and persistence created a 1.4-billion-pixel map of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor—a crucial tool in research on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and a completely new standard for bathymetry maps.

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Kody Virgil Kramer was almost 33 years old when he passed away on 11 April 2018, after 18 months of fighting esophageal cancer that had spread to his liver and lungs.

In his short time working at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), he left a lasting impression on everyone who worked with him or knew him—as a great person, scientist, friend, son, and husband. He is survived by his wife, Katherine; his mother, Loralee Kranzler, and stepdad, Dean; and his father, Ron Kramer, and stepmom, Jane, all of Salina, Kan.

Early Work

Kody earned his bachelor’s degree in geology from Kansas State University in 2007 and graduated from Louisiana State University with his master’s degree in geology and geophysics in 2011. He joined BOEM in June 2010 and worked in the Regional Analysis Unit, where he was involved in the permitting process for new oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the mapping of natural gas hydrate deposits on and below the seafloor.

He interpreted 3-D seismic amplitude response to identify potential natural hydrocarbon seeps, authigenic carbonate hardgrounds, and the deepwater coral and chemosynthetic communities associated with those sites. He participated in several research cruises that deployed remotely operated underwater vehicles to visit sites identified by the 3-D seismic data, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) R/V Ron Brown and R/V Okeanos Explorer.

Kody’s Map

During much of the time he was going through chemotherapy and radiation, he was working diligently to complete a project that he and I had conceived for NOAA’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The NRDA biologists had requested a high-resolution bathymetry map of the area around the BP disaster to model potential coral and chemosynthetic community occurrences.

Kody took my seafloor interpretations from 3-D seismic data and stitched them together into one grid to create the highest-resolution bathymetry map of the area to date. It became apparent that he could continue across the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, combining every interpretation from the best 3-D seismic surveys to complete the grid.

Gas Expulsion Mounds – Geologic Map of Gulf of Mexico
This segment of the full map shows the gas expulsion mounds with adjacent thrust folding and faulting caused by lateral salt migration in the southern Terrebonne Basin in the central Gulf of Mexico. This section was one of Kramer’s favorites because of its interesting geology and because he participated in the follow-up investigation of drilling that took place just south of the mounds in the center of the image. Credit: BOEM

Despite his ill health, Kody relished the challenge. The doctors had originally given him 2 months to live, and his response to that was “the hell with that.” Making the map became a labor of love, keeping him focused and alive. It took him more than a year to finish the map; he lived for 16 more months than the doctors had expected.

The map was published online in Eos on 24 May 2017. Within days, it was picked up by numerous other publications, including National Geographic, Smithsonian, Forbes, Oil and Gas Journal, Esri, Gizmodo, and others. The BOEM web page has been viewed more than 36,500 times; the Eos article has been viewed more than 51,000 times and is the third most read article on Eos.org since its founding in December 2014.

This reception is a testament to Kody’s vision—his legacy will be forever guaranteed by the persistence and creativity he used to create a map that has already become one of the standards for bathymetry maps worldwide.

A memorial for Kody has been established at the Kansas State University Foundation. Contributions may be made online or sent to KSU Foundation, 1800 Kimball Avenue, Suite 200, Manhattan, KS 66502. Please indicate fund M47204.

—William W. Shedd ([email protected]), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, New Orleans, La.

Citation: Shedd, W. W. (2019), Kody Kramer (1985–2018) , Eos, 100, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EO113493. Published on 10 January 2019.
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