Geological Survey Releases Madison County Planning Map

Contact: Ralph Derickson

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“To understand this map you really don’t need a background in science, because it narrows the geology down to the basic rock types that are in the county and tells you what some of the problems are that you have to look for if you’re excavating a basement, developing a new subdivision, building a mall, or considering a site for a city park.”

- Bart Davidson
Principle Designer

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 6, 2004) -- If a prospective homeowner wants to know whether an area of Madison County is suitable for a new house, or if a developer is considering major commercial construction in the county, they now have some additional help making wise decisions, courtesy of the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) at the University of Kentucky.

The KGS has released a map intended to serve as a preliminary guide for understanding the geology beneath such development sites and its potential effects on construction. The “Generalized Geologic Map for Land-Use Planning: Madison County, Kentucky” is the 24th county map completed and released by the KGS.

While the map is not intended to be used for regulating development or choosing a specific project site, its principle designers, Bart Davidson and Dan Carey, believe it will serve as a valuable tool for preliminary site-development planning, giving developers an idea of the underlying geology and potential pitfalls of an area.

“The idea of the map is to make people aware of these issues so that they don’t plow into something, get halfway through, and realize they have a serious problem,” says Carey, a KGS hydrologist. “These maps don’t pretend to predict everything that might happen, just the basic things we know about.” In order to allow the general public to understand and use the maps, the geology has been generalized, according to Davidson, but not over-simplified.

“To understand this map you really don’t need a background in science,” he explains, “because it narrows the geology down to the basic rock types that are in the county and tells you what some of the problems are that you have to look for if you’re excavating a basement, developing a new subdivision, building a mall, or considering a site for a city park.”

Davidson, who is a hydrogeologist at the KGS, adds that the original Madison County geologic map shows 24 types of rock, each technically different from the others. However, that information has been generalized into eight different types of rock with brief descriptions of the strengths and weaknesses of each type. In addition, the map has photographs and discussions of geologic concerns such as landslides, karst landscapes, and some shale deposits, which can expand, causing damage to building foundations.

Davidson and Carey hope the map will be used early in the process of looking into the feasibility of developing a site. The extensive text on the map suggests that when development is considered in potentially troublesome areas, it would be best to consult with private professional geologists or engineers after final site selection.

Using data compiled by other agencies, including Kentucky’s Transportation Cabinet, Davidson and Carey were able to include major roads, mapped sinkholes, faults, wetlands, and water, oil and gas wells along with other features on the map.

With all of this information the map is a sizable publication, at 43 inches wide by 36 inches tall. Full-color copies are available for $10 each from the KGS Public Information Center on the UK campus at (859) 257-3896 or toll-free at (877) 778-7827. The entire map can also be viewed online in “pdf” format at the Survey’s Web site, http://www.uky.edu/kgs.


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