Cathy Evans
Kansas Geological Survey

Kansas Geological Survey honors outstanding employee

Fri, 01/26/2018

LAWRENCE — Shelby Peterie, research geophysicist at the Kansas Geological Survey, has received the fifth annual KGS Outstanding Support Staff Recognition Award.

As a member of the KGS Exploration Services section, Peterie plays a key role in the detection and monitoring of earthquakes in the state. She oversees analysis of earthquake data collected through the KGS 24-station seismic monitoring network, which she helped establish in 2016. She maintains the Kansas earthquake catalog and provides insight into past, current and future trends in the state’s seismic activity.

“Shelby ensures that our monitoring of seismicity is integral to protecting the well-being and property of Kansans,” said Rick Miller, KGS senior scientist and Exploration Services chief. “She works diligently to ensure the highest quality control so that all earthquakes of significance to decision makers are observed and documented as quickly as possible.”

Peterie’s work on the earthquake network and catalog has helped the KGS receive special funding for the project from the Kansas Legislature, Miller said. She also provides technical support for a 15-member industry consortium established to study seismicity trends in the state.

In addition, Peterie is part of a team developing tunnel detection technologies funded by a multimillion dollar grant from the U.S. Army. Techniques developed at the KGS for locating voids are used to record seismic waves — created on the surface with explosives or specially equipped vehicles — as they bounce off different subsurface features in different ways.

Besides being beneficial to the Army at sites along the U.S. border and overseas, the KGS near-surface seismic technologies have important nonmilitary applications in Kansas. Here they are being used to locate underground cavities related to abandoned lead and zinc mines in the southeast corner and dissolution of underground salt layers in the central part of the state. Both types of voids have led to catastrophic surface collapse. Images recorded of subsurface rock properties and geologic features also contribute to advances in subsurface mapping.

"Shelby merits the recognition that comes with this award,” KGS Director Rolfe Mandel said. “Her involvement with monitoring and analyzing seismic activity is crucial to an important mission of the KGS, and she has key roles in other investigations that benefit our nation and state. We are fortunate to have Shelby on our staff."

A graduate of KU with a master’s degree in geology with a geophysics emphasis, Peterie also received bachelor’s degrees in physics and astronomy from Benedictine College in Atchison.

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