Keith Hautala


Landslides: A Threat in Kentucky Too

Published: Mar 27, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 27, 2014) — Kentucky geologists say Saturday morning's landslide in rural Snohomish County, Wa., should serve as a reminder that other parts of the country, including the Commonwealth, face similar threats.


The incident in Washington state, reported to cover about a square mile, occurred as a result of recent heavy rains that saturated the ground. Kentucky has also been affected by landslides, though most of them are not as large or devastating as the Washington state slide.


The Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) at the University of Kentucky is compiling a landslide inventory database to better document the distribution and geologic context of Kentucky’s landslides.


“The purpose of the database is to provide users easy access to landslide information, raise awareness of landslide causes, and avoid property damage or injury,” says Matt Crawford, who maintains the database at KGS. “Landslides are more likely to occur in areas of existing slides, because the rocks and soil are already weakened, although the style and rate of movement may be different.”

Knowing landslide locations and their relationship to geologic properties (bedding, mineral composition, porosity, slope, thickness, strength, etc.) can mitigate potential problems associated with construction of roads, foundations, and bridges, and contribute to overall practical hillslope development.

“Landslide” is a broad term referring to the downslope movement of rock, soil, or both under the influence of gravity. The type of material in a landslide and its style of movement influences decisions needed for hazard mitigation and risk reduction. The majority of landslides in Kentucky occur within colluvial soils or along the soil-bedrock contact. Colluvial soils are formed by weathering and erosion of rock and soil accompanied by downslope movement by gravity. When disturbed or loaded, by heavy rainfall saturating a slope, for example, these soils are susceptible to landslides.

The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area and Eastern Kentucky are particularly susceptible to landslides. These areas have steep slopes, easily weathered rock types, and locally thick, weak soils. When combined with several triggers such as intense rainfall, water-level change, or modification of slopes by humans, landslides can occur. Crawford and others at KGS have visited multiple landslide sites to assess them and help local governments with long-term solutions.

Local governments and regional planning agencies have requested his help with assessing damaging incidents in Lawrence and Boyd Counties, where homeowners have been forced to move out after sudden movement of the ground undermined their homes. Crawford has monitored a landslide in rural Boyd County, where a home has been abandoned. He used soil sampling and instruments to determine groundwater levels, the speed of the ground movement, and the depth and shape of the sliding groundmass at the site.

In addition to the landslide inventory and site assessments, a study correlating highway maintenance-cost data for landslides and rockfalls to geologic units has been recently completed by another KGS researcher. Seven years of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet data were analyzed to determine the geologic and geographic context of slides and falls that cost $37.4 million in repairs. Bethany Overfield found that not all geologic units have an equal likelihood for these hazards. According to Overfield, repair-cost analysis highlighted geologic units that were the most costly to maintain and most frequently repaired. This analysis provides transportation engineers and planners with a predictive tool for better assessing future roadway construction and budgets.

KGS has resources available to help people find out more about landslides in this region. Information, photos, and a KGS fact sheet are available at


The KGS landslide database was used to create an online landslide information map that shows locations of known landslides and areas susceptible to landslides in a geologic and geomorphic context. It can be seen at


KGS partnered with the geological surveys of Indiana and Ohio, as well as the University of Cincinnati geology department, to produce a detailed pamphlet about the region’s landslide conditions. Duke Energy provided funding to print “Landslides and Your Property” in 2013. Folded, ready-to-use paper copies are available from the KGS Public Information Center on the UK campus for $4 each. They may be ordered by calling 859-257-3896 or toll-free at 1-877-778-7827 and asking for publication 17740. A low-resolution version of the publication can also be viewed at




MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Hautala, 859-323-2396;

Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Campus Sustainability Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Peanut Butter Drive
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
What Makes You "YOU: with Brett T. Spear
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Kentucky Men's Basketball Blue/White Scrimmage
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Screening of the documentary Teached
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
UK Lab Safety Fair
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
Film Viewing and Discussion of The Other Boleyn Girl
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference
PEIK Seminar: Jim Rogers
Oct 31
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman 10/31/2014

Repeats every week until Sat Nov 29 2014 except Sat Sep 20 2014, Sat Oct 18 2014.
Sat, 11/01/2014

Reset Page