The cost of karst subsidence and sinkhole collapse in the United States compared with other natural hazards

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Abstract

Rocks with potential for karst formation are found in all 50 states. Damage due to karst subsidence and sinkhole collapse is a natural hazard of national scope. Repair of damage to buildings, highways, and other infrastructure represents a significant national cost. Sparse and incomplete data show that the average cost of karst-related damages in the United States over the last 15 years is estimated to be at least $300,000,000 per year and the actual total is probably much higher. This estimate is lower than the estimated annual costs for other natural hazards; flooding, hurricanes and cyclonic storms, tornadoes, landslides, earthquakes, or wildfires, all of which average over $1 billion per year. Very few state organizations track karst subsidence and sinkhole damage mitigation costs; none occurs at the Federal level. Many states discuss the karst hazard in their State hazard mitigation plans, but seldom include detailed reports of subsidence incidents or their mitigation costs. Most State highway departments do not differentiate karst subsidence or sinkhole collapse from other road repair costs. Amassing of these data would raise the estimated annual cost considerably. Information from insurance organizations about sinkhole damage claims and payouts is also not readily available. Currently there is no agency with a mandate for developing such data. If a more realistic estimate could be made, it would illuminate the national scope of this hazard and make comparison with costs of other natural hazards more realistic.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title The cost of karst subsidence and sinkhole collapse in the United States compared with other natural hazards
Series number 14
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher University of South Florida
Publisher location Tampa, FL
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center
Description 14 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title 14th Sinkhole Conference
First page 433
Last page 446
Conference Title 14th Sinkhole Conference
Conference Location Rochester, MN
Conference Date October 5-6, 2015
Country United States