Experts look at possibility of earthquake in Kentucky

By: Janet Kim Email
By: Janet Kim Email

With more than a decade of research, geologists in the state want the seismic activity in Kentucky reevaluated.

"We need to be more accurate because we need to assess our legitimate hazard," says Dr. Jim Cobb, a state geologist.

Currently, in the western part of Kentucky, specifically in the Paducah area, seismic standards are similar to those in California, but state geologists say that's an exaggeration.

"There's a lot of attention on earthquakes because of all that's occurred in Haiti, Chile, and now Taiwan and it brings attention to the seismic hazards," says Cobb. "It always comes up on the news the hazard map, the Central US up from the Mississippi up to Southern Illinois and Kentucky are susceptible to damages, but the assessment is too high."

Some believe the high standards could be hurting economic development in our state, as it reflects in the cost of building to seismic standards.

"If we have parts of our state in such a high hazard, people won't locate there, hurting ourselves," says Cobb. "Though it's terrible in Haiti, it's not a reflection of what we have to deal with in the area."

Geologists at the University of Kentucky are working to approach state and federal lawmakers to reevaluate current, earthquake standards.


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