BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Cumberland Trace Elementary is currently remedying a problem that Bowling Green has seen before: a massive sinkhole.
Many Kentuckians remember the geographical incident occurring at Bowling Green’s National Corvette Museum in 2014, leading to multiple cars being swallowed.
Brandon Jarrett posted a photo of the sinkhole on Facebook. It quickly went viral and had many people wondering what happened.
“There are people that drive, 20, 30, 40 minutes just to come to Bowling Green, to work or bring their kids to school,” Jarrett said. “And so, to be able to have a place for open discussion and dialogue, I think it’s important for me, for people in the community, and I know they appreciate it.”
But it begs the question: how does this stuff happen?
Andrea Erhardt, a professor at the University of Kentucky who researches geochemistry, has an answer: limestone.
“It’s this rock that kind of dissolves a little bit. And as water goes through this rock, it slowly dissolves,” she explained. “And it fills all those caves, and sometimes, as we see, those caves can collapse.”
Bowling Green sits on a Karst topographical region, making it more susceptible to sinkholes than other areas. Although it is tough to prevent a sinkhole, Erhardt said they’re unlikely to cause harm.
“The chances are, they’re gonna go fill that in, they’re gonna have a really good sense of what’s happening in that school,” Erhardt said. “It’s not gonna open up a cavern and grab a whole kindergarten class down into the cave. You’re gonna note that these things are happening. You’re gonna see the ground rumbling.”
Other major cities, like Fort Knox, Elizabethtown and Lexington, lie on Karst topography. UK researchers estimate roughly 55% of Kentucky is underlain by rocks that could develop Karst terrain, given enough time.
No one was injured from the Cumberland Trace Elementary sinkhole, and crews are actively working to repair the hole.