Kentucky Testing Dam for Possible Earthquake Damage

November 28, 2012

Officials in eastern Kentucky are conducting tests on a dam to see if a recent 4.3 magnitude earthquake centered near Blackey enlarged the flow of a small stream at the bottom of the structure.

Inspectors from the Kentucky Division of Environmental Protection joined city officials from Jenkins and engineer Paul Nesbit at the Elkhorn Lake dam. Nesbitt told The Mountain Eagle that the stream is 10 times larger than it was five years ago, but it is not a cause for panic.

“All dams leak,” said Nesbitt. “But this is not a slight change.”

Nesbitt said the growth of the stream is “a concern” and officials will decide what needs to be done after tests are complete.

The Nov. 10 earthquake in Letcher County is the fourth-largest in Kentucky history.

Bath County has the record for the largest and second-largest earthquakes in Kentucky history, according to Zhenming Wang, head of the geologic hazards section for the Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky. A 5.3-magnitude earthquake occurred there in 1980 and a 4.6-magnitude earthquake occurred there in 1988. In 1972, a 4.5-magnitude earthquake struck in Ballard County, Wang said.

Tremors during the quake were felt by residents from Columbus, Ohio to the north and Atlanta, Georgia to the south. Residents of Nashville, Tenn., and Greensboro, N.C., also reported feeling the earth shaking.

Topics Catastrophe Natural Disasters Kentucky Earthquake

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