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The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is a multi-state drill spanning much of the central United States. This page has information for participants living in Kentucky.

Points of Contact

Commonwealth of Kentucky Division of Emergency Management Logo: Prepare Respond Recover

State Earthquake Program Manager
Steve Brukwicki, Kentucky Div. of Emergency Management
Phone: 502-607-5759

FEMA Regional Earthquake Program Manager
Noriko Boston, FEMA Region IV
Phone: (770) 220-5200


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Kentucky Earthquake Hazards

Geologic hazards, such as earthquakes, landslides, and sinkholes, cause millions of dollars in losses in Kentucky each year. The level and type of geologic hazards vary across the state, depending on the geology, topography, and hydrology.

A large landslide in Hickman, in western Kentucky , destroyed many houses, and more than $10 million has been spent to try to fix it. About $1 million has been spent to repair damage caused by landslides on the Audubon Parkway between Owensboro and Henderson . Fifty-five percent of the state sits atop carbonate rocks that are prone to developing karst. Karst hazards include sinkhole flooding, sudden cover collapse, and leakage around dams. The estimated damage caused by karst hazards every year in Kentucky is between $0.5 million and $1 million.

As our existing infrastructure begins to age, the expanding economy and population are forcing new development and construction in more undesirable locations, which are more prone to geologic hazards. KGS is striving to provide better information on geologic hazards in Kentucky , through technical research and assistance, as well as public education and awareness.

Kentucky is affected by earthquakes from several seismic zones in and around the state. The most important one is the New Madrid Seismic Zone, in which at least three great earthquakes, each estimated to have been greater than magnitude 8 on the Richter scale, occurred from December 1811 to February 1812. Though the state was sparsely settled, these great earthquakes affected the whole Commonwealth of Kentucky . The following quotes are taken from newspaper articles published after the December 16, 1811, quake.

Frankfort "About two o'clock on Sunday night was felt in this place a violent shock of an earthquake. It continued for several minutes and produced a considerable vibration of houses. Some bricks are said to have fell from the top of the court house chimney" (The American Republic, Frankfort , KY).

Henderson "A severe shock of an earthquake was felt at this place on the 16th inst. At half past 2 o'clock, A.M. -- many chimneys were cracked by the motion; -- and at sun-rise another shock threw down most of the chimneys so injured" (The Weekly Register-Chronicle, Washington, D.C. ).

Lexington "About half after two o'clock, yesterday morning, a severe shock of an earthquake was felt at this place: the earth vibrated two or three times in a second, which continued for several minutes, and so great was the shaking that the windows were agitated equal to what they would have been in a hard gust of wind" (Kentucky Gazette, Lexington, KY).

Louisville "On Monday morning the 16th instant, this place was visited by a most alarming Earthquake. . . . We are induced to believe, the continuation was from 4 to 6 minutes, though some say it was not so long; -- about an hour afterwards, another shock was felt; and a little after sunrise, a third, which broke off several chimneys, and injured some houses otherwise" (Poulson's American Daily Advertiser, Philadelphia, PA)

An earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale occurred in 1980 near Sharpsburg in Bath County and caused an estimated $3 million in damage; 269 homes and 37 businesses in nearby Maysville were damaged. Thus, earthquakes pose high seismic hazards and risk to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The following links provide local and statewide earthquake hazard information:

State Emergency Management Website

State Geological Survey Website

USGS State Earthquake Website

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The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut