Cory BlackEagle

cwbl222's picture
  • Ph.D Candidate
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant
  • Earth & Environmental Sciences
112 Slone
  • Other Affiliations:
Research Interests:

B.S., Geology, University of Kentucky (B.S., Geology) M.S., Geology, Eastern Kentucky University (M.S., Geology) Ph.D student, Geology, University of Cincinnati


Twenty years as a professional geologist working primarily in karst geology, environmental geology, coal, oil, and gas.

Five years as a high school earth science teacher, with current certifications in 6-12 science in Kentucky.  Designated as a Master Teacher in Virginia.

Lived and worked in 6 states and have spent substantial time in 20 additional states.


Lithostratigraphic and Structural Controls on Karst Features in the Inner Bluegrass Region of Kentucky

The Inner Bluegrass region of Kentucky represents the state’s most densely populated and second largest karst terrane.  Consequently, its karst features can affect the lives of more people and buildings than elsewhere in Kentucky. Previous researchers have noted correlations between the location of karst features and various geologic factors in small, isolated areas of the Inner Bluegrass, but it was not previously possible to examine what controls the location and development of karst features for the entire region.  The results of a recently published dissertation provide highly detailed lithostratigraphic descriptions and member distributions for the Lexington Limestone, which hosts karst in the Inner Bluegrass region.  Another recent dissertation provides a more comprehensive understanding of how the region’s fluvial geomorphology has developed through time and the impacts of the last glacial maximum on that development.  Those results raise the question of whether the karst features in the region will display multiple time signals in terms of their location and spatial distribution patterns.  The proposed study will use the capabilities of a geographic information system (GIS), for data management, mapping, and analysis.  Analysis of the data will focus on determining the significance of apparent relationships using geostatistical methods and field data collection as ground reference and accuracy assessment tool.  The possibility for automated or semiautomated karst feature extraction will be explored.  The input for this feature extraction will be: (1) the fusion of high-accuracy/high-resolution, LiDAR-derived DEMs (digital terrain elevation models) and intensity images, (2) high-spatial-resolution (1 m), 4-band, multispectral aerial imagery, and (3) ancillary layers which include geomorphic, geologic and fluvial morphology indicators.  Extraction efforts will be aided by GIS modeling based on morphometric indices.  Field data collection will be used to assess feature extraction and mapping accuracy.  The goal of the research will be to map and analyze patterns in spatial distribution of each type of karst feature; and evaluate relationships between karst features and the geologic factors known to control karstification.

Anticipated contributions of this research include the following.


Understanding Landscape Evolution

a)    The results of this study will provide a basis for detailing the history of karst development as part of the landscape evolution in the Inner Bluegrass region, and this can be integrated into the effort to understand landscape evolution for the entire state.

b)    The maps generated by the study will be an excellent addition to the Karst Atlas of Kentucky currently under development at the Kentucky Geological Survey (Currens and Ray, 1999).  It is envisioned that a similar set of maps covering the entire state could be created by applying the methodology developed in this study.

c)    The results of the study will make possible the development of a modified Karst Development Index (KDI, after Currens et al, 2009) for the Inner Bluegrass region.  This modified KDI can then be used to further test and refine the original KDI for the entire state.

New Karst Data

a)    New sources of data have been identified that are not currently available through the Kentucky Geological Survey (Chuck Taylor, U.S. Geological Survery, personal communication, 2012).  These data sources will be incorporated into the study’s geodatabase for analysis and map-making.  The study’s geodatabase will be transferred to the Kentucky Karst Atlas at the completion of the research.

b)    The U.S. Geological Survey has recently released its historic map collection as digital data.  As part of this study, the data for Kentucky will be identified, that data for the Inner Bluegrass will be obtained, and it will be incorporated into the study’s analysis and map-making.  By using GIS to compare this historic data to current conditions, it is anticipated that additional information regarding the location and characteristics of karst features will be obtained that pre-date the extensive urban development and construction within the region.  Additionally, this comparison will provide insight into how such urban development may interact with, affect, and/or induce karst development. 

Improved Urban Development and Planning

The study’s data set will provide valuable information for urban development planning and zoning by clearly indicating areas where karst features may prevent, restrict, or require modification of new construction for both structures and roadways as well as where it will impact existing structures and roadways. 

Enhanced Groundwater and Surface-Water Protection

Groundwater in karst regions is highly sensitive to pollution but many water supplies in the region depend on such groundwater.  In addition, surface water often affects groundwater and is also affected by groundwater in karst terrane.  The updated data set will provide a basis for indicating areas highly susceptible to groundwater pollution so that these areas can be more rigorously protected.  The data set will also be valuable in delineating stream reaches that are under the influence of groundwater discharge and concomitant water quality.

New Methodology for Scientific Study of Karst

The use of GIS and spatial statistics coupled with field work has not been documented in the literature with regard to the study of karst-landform evolution.  Therefore, the proposed methodology will be a valuable contribution to the future study and documentation of karst occurrence and resources in Kentucky as well as for researchers working in other locations outside of Kentucky.

Graduate Training

I completed my Master of Science work at Eastern Kentucky University. The title of my thesis was "The Origin and Development of Brucker Breakdown and the Adjacent Area, Mammoth Cave System, Kentucky".
I completed all course work for my Ph.D. in Geology at the University of Cincinnati. The title of my proposed dissertation research was "Hydrogeology of a carbonate aquifer and geochemical interactions between it and oil field pollution, Lee, Estill and Powell Counties, Kentucky".

Selected Publications: 

25 Scientific publications in Geology (9 of which were refereed, 6 of which were reviewed), 6 Resource Management publications, photography wall show, and 6 photographs published professionally.

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