UK geologist says sinkholes are common in Kentucky

National Corvette Museum

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A geologist at the University of Kentucky says sinkholes like the one that shut down The National Corvette Museum are common in Kentucky.

"Maybe fifty to a hundred a year, statewide," said karst hydrogeologist Jim Currens.

Currens says the sinkholes usually happen in less populated areas so they often go unnoticed.

"They may not be discovered for months after they occur."

Currens says most sinkholes are caused by limestone or dolomite being eroded by water. Over time the area spreads, eventually carrying sand and dirt with it. As the erosion builds upwards the only thing holding the ground in place is the top layer of soil.

"Until it reaches a point where the structural sheer strength of that overlying soil material is insufficient to support it's own weight, then the whole thing collapses," he said.

And we could begin seeing more of those collapses as there's more development on areas with the potential for erosion.

"As there is more construction, more land area is developed, the impact of cover collapse on these structures will be more often and maybe more severe."