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Earthquakes and Other Geologic Hazards

Geologic hazards, such as earthquakes, landslides, and sinkholes, cause millions of dollars in losses in Kentucky each year. The level and type of geologic hazards vary across the state, depending on the geology, topography, and hydrology. For a map of these hazards, see Geologic Hazards in Kentucky, (23Mb).

Although we have not had a major earthquake for nearly two hundred years, a repeat of the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes could cause significant property damage and loss of life in Kentucky. A moderate earthquake (M5.2) near Sharpsburg in northeastern Kentucky caused about $3 million damage in Maysville. A large landslide in Hickman, in western Kentucky, destroyed many houses, and more than $10 million has been spent to try to fix it. About $1 million has been spent to repair damage caused by landslides on the Audubon Parkway between Owensboro and Henderson. Fifty-five percent of the state sits atop carbonate rocks that are prone to developing karst. Karst hazards include sinkhole flooding, sudden cover collapse, and leakage around dams. The estimated damage caused by karst hazards every year in Kentucky is between $0.5 million and $1 million.

As our existing infrastructure begins to age, the expanding economy and population are forcing new development and construction in more undesirable locations, which are more prone to geologic hazards. KGS is striving to provide better information on geologic hazards in Kentucky , through technical research and assistance, as well as public education and awareness.




KGS staff also conducts cooperative research with faculty at the Department of Geological Sciences (


The Geology of Radon - U.S Department of the Intererior/U.S Geological Survey



Research assistantships are available for students pursuing graduate degrees in geological sciences through the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (

For more information, please contact Dr. Zhenming Wang.

Geologic Hazards, Kentucky Geological Survey.