Sinkholes scattered across Kentucky geography

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by Alex Schuman

WHAS11.com

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 12:42 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 6:06 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Kentucky’s landscape is considered beautiful by many, but the same underground streams of water that created the rolling hills also helped send eight Corvettes into a gaping hole.

The state is among the top seven for the highest number of sinkholes.

“It’s actually a slow process, but we don’t see it until the 11th hour,” said Tom Rockaway, a civil engineering professor for the University of Louisville.

Sinkholes originate from water underground slowly eating away at rocks and dirt.  The water creates caves and big holes, which over time ebb away rock until they get to the surface. 

“Each sinkhole is unique,” said Rockaway.

Geotimes estimates 55 percent of Kentucky is on a bedrock or limestone that could collapse into a sinkhole.  Jefferson, and all its surrounding counties, experience sinkholes, but they are more prevalent in Central and Southern Kentucky.

“The engineers know to try and look for these features,” said Rockaway.  “The problem is, sometimes they start off very localized and they're hard to identify in advance."

Engineers can reinforce walls, or try to detect the shifting ground ahead of time.  But according to Rockaway, there is nothing you can to stop the Earth from coming out from under your building.

"It's just what nature does,” he said.
 

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