M. King Hubbert

October 5, 1903 - October 11, 1989

Scientific Discipline: Geology
Membership Type:
Emeritus (elected 1955)

Geoscientist M. King Hubbert focused his research on oil and natural gas, observing the capacities of different fields and their rates of petroleum production. His Hubbert Curve, a bell curve that approximately measures the production rate of petroleum for any given geographical area, was one of the bedrock concepts in the idea of “Peak Oil,” an idea he presented to the American Petroleum institute in 1956. In the early 1970s his predictions were shown to be largely correct. Hubbert also made contributions to the understanding of the plasticity of the Earth’s crust and to hydrogeology.

Hubbert earned his BS and MS degrees, as well as his PhD, from the University of Chicago, where he studied geology, physics, and mathematics. He taught geology at Columbia University until joining the Shell Oil Company in 1943; he stayed with Shell until 1964. The U.S. Geological Survey made him senior research geophysicist from 1963 to 1968, and five years later he served as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

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