Subsidence Susceptibility Map for the Conterminous U.S.

Science Center Objects

Sinkholes present hazards to humans due to subsidence and by focusing contaminated surface water runoff into groundwater. Sinkholes create instability in the foundations of buildings, roads and other infrastructure, resulting in damage and in some cases loss of life, but may also play an important role as vernal pools in some ecosystems. This project created a prototype nationwide subsidence s...

Sinkholes present hazards to humans due to subsidence and by focusing contaminated surface water runoff into groundwater.  Sinkholes create instability in the foundations of buildings, roads and other infrastructure, resulting in damage and in some cases loss of life, but may also play an important role as vernal pools in some ecosystems. This project created a prototype nationwide subsidence susceptibility map using established USGS research, existing USGS authoritative data (National Elevation Dataset, National Hydrography Dataset), and innovative processing techniques using the USGS Yeti supercomputer. By creating both a national polygon dataset of closed features and a heatmap of regions characterized by dense clustering of sinkholes in karst areas across the conterminous U.S., we produced digital datasets that can be used for (1) assessment of sinkhole hazard susceptibility to infrastructure, (2) analysis of sinkholes for groundwater contamination and recharge, and (3) identification of sinkholes as landscape resources in sensitive ecosystems.



Image caption: Closed depression “hot spots” located in areas having bedrock potential for karst within the conterminous United States. Note the high density of depressions along the southern Atlantic coastal plain, in glaciated regions of the Midwest and northeastern U.S., and in volcanic pseudokarst regions of the western U.S. Additional work needs to be done to determine where in these regions the depressions result from karst processes or from other geomorphic processes.