Edward W. Woolery

  • Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
  • Earth & Environmental Sciences
247E Mining and Minerals Research Building (Office), 309 Slone Research Building (Lab)
859.218.3536 (Office), 859.257.3016 (Lab)
Other Affiliations:
  • Kentucky Geological Survey, Faculty Associate
  • Institute of Crustal Dynamics, China Earthquake Administration, Visiting Research Fellow
Research Interests:

Ph.D., Geological Sciences, Kentucky, 1998
M.S., Geological Sciences, Kentucky, 1993
B.S.C.E, Civil Engineering, Kentucky, 1996
B.S., Geology, Eastern Kentucky University, 1985


My research bridges the interface between geophysics and the engineering disciplines, primarily as a field-oriented experimentalist focused on earthquake hazards in general, and near-surface geophysics, neotectonics (active-fault assessment), and ground-motion site response in particular.  Most research has been concentrated in the central United States (i.e., New Madrid seismic zone and Wabash Valley seismic zone), but more recently along the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau in western China.

A significant part of the work has been devoted to the spatial and temporal evaluation of “blind” faults and other near-surface neotectonic manifestations using high-resolution geophysical imaging techniques.  Research projects have integrated high-resolution seismic (often using the horizontally polarized shear-wave mode), electrical resistivity, and ground-penetrating-radar with selective drilling to constrain subsurface complexities. The earliest work was the first in the central United States to show the SH-wave can often be more amenable for imaging geologic features in the near surface (< 100 m) sediment than the conventional P-wave methods.  These near-surface techniques have recently become of interest to the Chinese Earthquake Administration (CEA).  The CEA and their provincial institutes are performing a national seismic hazard evaluation, and locating “capable” faults are similarly proving problematic for them, particularly in urban areas. We have participated in collaborative field tests supported by the Gansu provincial government and the CEA during the past six summers that have been successful in identifying active faults in various locations in the Gansu and Qinghai provinces.

My other research interests include the influence that thick soil/sediment deposits in the Mississippi and Wabash river valleys have on earthquake ground-motion characteristics. Specifically, how they can alter (±) the amplitude, duration, and frequency content of an earthquake time series. Due to the complex geometry and lateral variation within these regional deposits, estimating the ground motions of earthquake engineering interest is problematic, however.  To address these issues, we collect in situ field measurements of the dynamic soil properties responsible for the effects, and use the results to model ground motions for scenario events. In order to help evaluate the validity of the calculated transfer functions, the University of Kentucky operates and maintains the Kentucky Seismic and Strong Motion Network (KSSMN), operated jointly by the Kentucky Geological Survey and my lab in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The growing network consists of 18 weak-motion stations and 11 strong-motion stations, with a concentrated focus on the New Madrid seismic zone (http://www.uky.edu/KGS/geologichazards/equake3.htm).


Selected Publications: 

Woolery, E., and Almayahi, A., 2014, Northeast-oriented transpression structure in the northern New Madrid seismic zone: Extension of a shear-zone across the Reelfoot fault stepover arm: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 104, no. 5, doi: 10.1785/0120140066.

Carpenter, N.S., Woolery, E., Wang, Z., 2014, The Mw 4.2 Perry County, Kentucky, Earthquake of 10 November 2012: Evidence of the eastern Tennessee seismic zone in southeastern Kentucky: Seismological Research Letters, v. 85, no. 4, p. 931–939. doi: 10.1785/0220130221.

Woolery, E. and Almayahi, A., 2014, Shear-wave birefringence measurements in faulted near-surface sediment: Fluorspar Area fault complex, central United States: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 104, no. 3, p. 1540–1549. doi: 10.1785/0120130150.

VanArsdale, R., Pryne, D., Woolery, E., 2013, Northwestern extension of the Reelfoot north fault near New Madrid, Missouri: Seismological Research Letters, v. 84, no. 6, p. 1114–1123. doi: 10.1785/0220130067

Pryne, D., VanArsdale, R., Csontos, R., Woolery, E., 2013, Northeastern extension of the New Madrid north fault— New Madrid seismic zone, central United States: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 103, no. 4, p. 2277–2294, doi: 10.1785/0120120241

Woolery, E., and R. Street, 2012, A note on blast-monitor and conventional seismic network recordings of moderate-sized earthquakes in the central United States: Seismological Research Letters, v. 83, no. 6, p. 1085–1089, doi: 10.1785/0220120008

Woolery, E., Street, R., Hart, P., Padgett, P., 2012, Two decades of linear site-effect observations (>2 Hz) in the Wabash Valley, Central United States—Context for the 2008 Illinois earthquake sequence: Seismological Research Letters, v. 83, no. 6, p. 1090 – 1103, doi: 10.1785/0220120007

Wang, Z., Butler, D., Woolery, E., Wang, L., 2012, Seismic hazard assessment for the Tianshui urban area, Gansu Province, China: International Journal of Geophysics, Art. ID 461863, 10 pp., doi: 10.1155/2012/461863

Macpherson, K., Woolery, E., Wang, Z., Lui, P., 2010, Long-period ground motion in the upper Mississippi embayment from finite-fault, finite-difference simulations: Seismological Research Letters, v. 81, no. 2, p. 240–254, doi: 10.1785/gssrl.81.2.240

Woolery, E., Baldwin, J., Kelson, K., Hampson, S., Givler, R., 2009, Site-specific fault assessment in the Fluorspar Area fault complex western Kentucky: Seismological Research Letters, v. 80, no. 6, p. 953–962, doi: 10.1785/gssrl.80.6.953

Lu, Y., Wang, Z., Wang, L., Shi, Y., Woolery, E., 2008, Acquisition technique of high-resolution shallow seismic data for active fault detection in the Lanzhou Basin: Northwestern Seismological Journal (in Chinese), v. 30, p. 344–353.

Woolery, E., Lin, T., Wang, Z., Shi, B., 2008, The role of local soil-induced amplification in the 27July1980 northeastern Kentucky earthquake: Environmental and Engineering Geoscience, v. XIV, no. 4, p. 267–280.

Woolery, E., 2005, Geophysical and geological evidence of neotectonic deformation along the Hovey Lake fault, Lower Wabash Valley Fault System, Central United States: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, v. 95, no. 3, 1193–1201.

Street, R., Bauer, R., and Woolery, E., 2004, A short note on magnitude scaling of the prehistorical earthquakes in the Wabash Valley seismic zone of the central United States: Seismological Research Letters, v. 75, p. 637–641.

Street, R., Woolery, E., Chiu, J-M., 2004, Shear-wave velocities of the post-Paleozoic sediments across the upper Mississippi embayment: Seismological Research Letters, v. 75, p. 390–405.

Woolery, E., Schaefer, J., and Wang, Z., 2003, Elevated lateral stress in unlithified sediment, Midcontinent United States—geotechnical and geophysical indicators for a tectonic origin: Tectonophysics, v. 368, p. 139–153.

Wang, Z., Madin, I., Woolery, E., 2003, Shallow SH-wave seismic investigation of the Mt. Angel fault,Pacific Northwest United States: Tectonophysics, v. 368, p. 105–117.

McBride, J., Pugin, A., Nelson, W., Larson, T., Sargent, S., Devera, J., Denny, F., Woolery, E., 2003, Unusual and variable post-Paleozoic deformation detected by seismic reflection profiling across northwestern “prong” of New Madrid seismic zone, Tectonophysics, v. 368, p. 171–191.

Woolery, E. and Street, R., 2002, 3D Near-Surface Soil Response from H/V Ambient Noise Ratios: Journal of Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, v. 22, p. 865–876.

Woolery, E., 2002, SH-wave Reflection Images of Anomalous Foundation Conditions at the Mississinewa Dam, Indiana: Journal of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics, v. 7, p. 161-168.

Woolery, E. and Street, R., 2002, Quaternary Fault Reactivation in the Fluorspar Area Fault Complex of Western Kentucky–Evidence from Shallow SH-wave Reflection Profiles: Seismological Research Letters, v. 73, p. 628–639.

Woolery, E., Street, R., Harris, J., Wang, Z., 1999, Neotectonic structure in the central New Madrid Seismic Zone: evidence from multi-mode seismic-reflection data: Seismological Research Letters, v. 70, p. 554-576.

Street, R., Woolery, E., Wang, Z., Harik, I., 1997, Soil classifications for estimating site-dependent response spectra and seismic coefficients for building code provisions in western Kentucky: Engineering Geology, v. 46, p. 331-347.

Street, R., Wang, Z., Woolery, E., Hunt, J., Harris, J., 1997, Site effects at a vertical accelerometer array near Paducah, Kentucky: Engineering Geology, v. 46, p. 349-367.

Woolery, E., Wang, Z., Street, R., Harris, J., 1996, A P- and SH-wave seismic investigation of the Kentucky Bend fault scarp in the New Madrid seismic zone: Seismological Research Letters, v. 66, p. 67-74.

Street, R., Woolery, E., Wang, Z., Harris, J., 1994, A short note on shear-wave velocities and other site conditions at selected strong-motion stations in the New Madrid seismic zone: Seismological Research Letters, v. 66, no.1, p. 56-63.

Woolery, E., Street, R., Wang, Z., Harris, J., 1993, Near-surface deformation in the New Madrid seismic zone as imaged by high-resolution SH-wave seismic methods: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 20, p. 1615-1618.

Wang, Z., Street, R., Woolery, E., Harris, J., 1993, Qs estimation for unconsolidated sediments using first-arrival SH-wave refractions: Journal of Geophysical Research, v.99, p. 13543-13551.

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