Student worker Andrew Holcomb joins KGS Geologic Hazards Section
Andrew Holcomb tried several majors during his college years at Western Kentucky University and UK, including engineering. “When I was at Western, I heard about the mining engineering program at UK, but it turned out that program wasn’t the best fit for me,” he says. “But I did take some geology classes while doing that.” When he switched to a physics major at UK, taking geology and geophysics classes taught by Ed Woolery, he found a major that caught his attention permanently. The geology classes reminded him of the three years he lived in Colorado in his younger life. “It kind of brought me back… so I was sold on geology.”
Holcomb, a Richmond, Ky., native, recently joined KGS as a full-time temporary geologic technician. He first came to KGS as a student worker in 2012, working with Steve Martin of the Geologic Mapping Section. “I was digitizing Jackson Purchase area core logs from anywhere like the 1920s through the 70s and 80s.” He also accompanied Woolery on trips to the New Madrid Seismic Zone where Woolery was gathering shear-wave and p-wave data, and the data became part of a project for his undergraduate geology degree. Holcomb’s involvement in seismic work continued when he later helped Seth Carpenter and Zhenming Wang of the Geologic Hazards Section install instruments in the Eastern Kentucky Microseismic Project network and began analyzing data from the instruments. Those data became the basis of his master’s degree thesis, “Initial Microseismic Recordings at the Onset of Unconventional Hydrocarbon Development in the Rome Trough, Eastern Kentucky,” which he defended in July to complete his master’s work.
He will continue working with instruments in both the eastern Kentucky network and the Kentucky Seismic and Strong-Motion Network, operated by KGS and the UK Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. “I’ve been doing maintenance on some of the seismic stations; I go to the instrument sites to replace data cards and do other maintenance work,” he says. “Really, I love working outside, and if I can do field work half of the time and be at the computer the other half, that’s perfect!” With more than a year’s worth of seismic data from the eastern Kentucky network to process and analyze, he will have plenty to keep him busy at the computer, too.
Now that he has completed his master’s degree, Holcomb also has more time for his other interests, which include outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, and kayaking. But he has a musical interest, as well. “I play a lot of music … guitar and some other bluegrass instruments, a little bit of mandolin and Dobro. I like to try to sing, though I'm not very good at it." He hopes to join a bluegrass band again, too.
He might even get back into rock collecting, which he gave up on during his undergraduate studies, when he moved several times. Relocating a heavy box of rocks with each move, he says, quickly became tiresome.