12:55pm

Fri December 2, 2011
The Commonwealth

Map Details Kentucky's Geology

The product of 40 years of work by scientists and researchers with the U.S. and Kentucky Geological Surveys was unveiled in Lexington Thursday: a composite of 25 maps detailing surface rock types, formations, and fault lines across the state. State Geologist Jim Cobb says the effort was built on several decades of data. "It's a very labor-intensive process. So it's not easy. It takes people, human resources, and computers," said Cobb.

Hundreds of people worked on the map, including former research geologist Wayne Newell. He spent 40 years with the U.S. Geological Survey covering Kentucky.

"We identify points and elevations and we contour a surface and then we project that onto the topography. And it does require a lot of rigor going up and down hill slopes and fighting your way through laurel and briars and a few other hazards," said Newell.

Cobb says Kentucky is the first state in the country to accomplish such an effort and make the map digital.

"The real users are on the Internet and they go to our map service. And if they have a property that they want to know are there sink holes or what kind of rock. If we're going to build a foundation for a building, they want to make sure they know what is there before something bad happens."

The map can be even viewed with a smart phone app. Color is used to show different rock layers, and with more than 300 stratigraphic units across Kentucky, the map resembles a tie-dye t-shirt.

Scientists say the geologic map is useful for developers, engineers, government officials, and land owners to locate resources, protect groundwater, and avoid sinkholes and landslides.

Click here to view the Kentucky Geological Survey's Map Information Service.