Environment Local News

by Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio

Scientists and researchers with the U.S. and Kentucky Geological Surveys have finished a 40-year effort to create a composite of 25 maps detailing surface rock types, formations, and fault lines across the state. The project was unveiled in Lexington today.

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,” Newell said. “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.”

State Geologist Jim 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,” Cobb said. “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.”

Cobb says 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.