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June 2012
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Sinkholes common in Kentucky, but Corvette Museum event unusual

Associated Press

BOWLING GREEN - While sinkholes as big as the one that swallowed eight Corvettes in Bowling Green last week aren't typical, smaller ones are common in the area.

Western Kentucky University geology professor Ken Kuehn told The Daily News that it is "a very typical feature of the karst environment."

Kuehn says that environment extends from around Elizabethtown to Tennessee.

"It's not just a Bowling Green problem. It's a regional problem," he said. "But Bowling Green is the largest city in the area."

Warren County Public Works Director Mac Yowell says his department gets calls weekly about sinkholes. He says the sinkhole at the Corvette Museum was one of at least five recorded in the area last week.

Yowell described the collapse at the museum as "one of the granddaddies of them all." He said the only other significant collapse he remembers is when a large section of Dishman Lane in Bowling Green gave way in 2002.

Former Public Works Director Emmett Wood says he thinks another big collapse is inevitable, but also impossible to predict.

"I wouldn't be surprised if one happened tomorrow and then didn't happen again for 10 years," Wood said.

Kuehn said sinkholes typically collapse after gradually eroding as underground water trickles through, removing soil from the rock. Scientists have no way to predict when they might occur.

"It would be a great thing, but it's really hard to know," said Jason Polk, professor of geology and geography at WKU. "We just can't see underground. We don't have any X-ray vision."

Specialists including Polk are still working to find out exactly what caused the sinkhole at the museum to collapse.

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