Karst as Geologic Hazard
A geologic hazard is a naturally occurring geologic condition that may result in property damage or is a threat to the safety of people. Many hazards to manmade structures can be associated with a particular type of bedrock, the presence of faults, and other earth processes . Earthquakes are the hazards that get the most press coverage and are the most notorious , but annually, landslides, shrinking-swelling soils, and flooding cause more damage than earthquakes in Kentucky because they happen more often. Karst hazards also cause less damage than earthquakes or landslides, perhaps a half million to $2 million of economic loss annually, but can still have devastating effects on individuals.
Four geologic hazards are associated with karst. Two common karst-related geologic hazards—cover-collapse sinkholes and sinkhole flooding—cause the most damage to buildings. A third karst hazard is relatively high concentrations of radon, sometimes found in basements and crawl spaces of houses built on karst. Finally, the hydrogeology of karst aquifers makes the groundwater vulnerable to pollution, and this vulnerability may also be considered a type of geologic hazard.