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New Study at UK Helps Citizens Learn About
Karst Landscape in Kentucky

By Ralph Derickson

 

Are you planning to build a home, or drill a well to find water on your property? If so, a new publication, “Kentucky is Karst Country! What You Should Know About Sinkholes and Springs,” by UK hydrogeologist and karst expert Jim Currens, is something you will want to read.

 

Jan. 27, 2003 (Lexington, Ky.) -- Did you know that the beautiful rolling hills of the Inner Bluegrass Region and the Western Pennyroyal are the result of development of karst landscape? The beauty of the landscape, however, conceals problems, which negatively affect many Kentuckians.

Are you planning to build a home, or drill a well to find water on your property? If so, a new publication, “Kentucky is Karst Country! What You Should Know About Sinkholes and Springs,” by UK hydrogeologist and karst expert Jim Currens, is something you will want to read.

Jim Cobb, director of the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) headquartered at the University of Kentucky, contends Kentucky is one of the most famous karst areas in the world. “Mammoth Cave, the state’s beautiful scenery, rich soils that result in prime farmland in Western Kentucky, and world-renowned horse farms exist because of the presence of karst,” Cobb said. “Thousands of households receive their drinking water from supplies of groundwater originating from springs and wells in karst areas, and many of Kentucky’s major cities, including Frankfort, east Louisville, Lexington, Georgetown and Bowling Green, are in karst areas,” he pointed out.

“Karst” is a term derived from a Slavic word that means “barren, stony ground.” Although a karst landscape most commonly develops on limestone, it can also develop on several other types of rocks. Most of the karst in Kentucky is on limestone and formed over hundreds of thousands of years.

Jim Currens, author of the new publication, said, “Kentuckians are affected by karst every day. However, many people don’t realize that higher taxes and an increased cost of living can be the result of karst hazards.” When communities are developed near karst springs to take advantage of reliable water sources, pollution from subsequent development can occur. Ultimately, the springs may have to be abandoned and alternative water supplies found.

Currens points out that “houses and factories built over filled sinkholes may be damaged when the fill is transported out of the sinkhole and the surface over the sinkhole collapses. Structures built in sinkholes are also vulnerable to flood damage.”

Currens’ publication offers color photos of karst features, information and illustrations showing how water flows underground, and a description of some of the geologic hazards associated with building on karst landscape. The publication includes advice for citizens to help minimize financial losses from karst hazards.

The publication is available for $7.50 by contacting the KGS publication sales office at (859) 257-3896. Customers outside of Lexington may call toll free at (877) 778-7827. It is also available to download at no charge on the Web site of the Kentucky Geological Survey.


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