Slopes and sinks: geologic hazards in Pennsylvania in a digital age

Delano, Helen L. and Kochanov, William E., DCNR, Pennsylvania Geological Survey, 3240 Schoolhouse Road, Middletown, PA 17057.

In the twenty-first century, the primary needs for engineering geology information will be the same basic tools we have used in the past: knowledge of the distribution of bedrock and surficial geologic materials, the topography and subsurface geometry of sites and the site histories, as well as an understanding of processes.

But the twenty-first century also presents other challenges to geologists--some new, others always with us. The need to inform the public, especially public decision-makers, of the value of our work and ways it can be used, is ongoing. Increased attention to land-use planning offers new opportunities, and requires that we learn to communicate with a new audience. Emerging digital technologies offer powerful tools, but require money and experience from which we can learn how to most effectively use them. Some users of our information want it in the newest high-tech formats while others need paper maps and printed texts. For the near-term at least, we must find ways to fill both needs.

Landslides and sinkholes in carbonate bedrock areas are the primary geologic hazards addressed by the Pennsylvania Geological Survey. Recently revised Educational Series publications (available in print and on the web) can help increase awareness of these hazards. We have sinkhole and landslide inventory and/or susceptibility maps available for many of the hazard-prone areas of the state. We have files of individual cases that staff have investigated or learned of from other sources. Regional geologic mapping studies have supplied data on specific occurrences and areas that seem free from major hazards. Basic information, including location, on many sinkholes is in a relational database.

Our goals for the near future are to design and develop a digital landslide database compatible with our existing sinkhole database; to explore methods of gathering information on costs of damages from geologic hazards; and to increase digital availability of existing and new maps and other information.

Poster paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America, Boston, MA, Thursday, November 8, 2001.


Reference: Helen L. Delano and William E. Kochanov, 2001, Slopes and Sinks: Geologic Hazards in Pennsylvania in a Digital Age (Abst.), Abstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America. v. 33; No. 6, Page A-422.