Karst Hazards & Disaster Planning

This course will meet each morning at the WKU Center for Research and Development (CRD) in Bowling Green. Participants who wish to stay at Hamilton Valley (near Mammoth Cave National Park) for $14 per night will be expected to commute to BG daily. Otherwise, participants are advised to pursue hotel lodging options in Bowling Green.

June 13-17, 2022

Hazards in karst environments include sinkholes, flooding, hazadous chemical spills and contamination events, radon emissions, development threats to caves, and other urban and human impacts, which are exacerbated by increasing development and existential threats like climate change. Participants will learn various methods and techniques for identifying and studying karst hazards, mitigation and remediation methods, and emergency response planning using applied case studies. Topics covered will include data collection and equipment/instrumentation use in conducting research and/or collecting data regarding karst hazards and for response planning, including the development and use of GIS web applications and real-time data collection methods. The course will include everything from planning for high-resolution monitoring to how to coordinate a response plan with first responders and community leaders using FEMA ICS protocols. Case studies will include the National Corvette Museum sinkhole, gasoline and hazardous chemical spills in aquifers, pollution prevention and monitoring in springs and injection wells, mapping and evaluating recurring urban flooding from karst features, and geophyical methods for development and building practices. Safety planning, communication exercises, and training best practices for managers, first responders, consultants, and researchers will be covered, including proper use of PPE and mointoring equipment (i.e. multigas meters, automated water samplers, radon meters, water quality sondes, etc.). Participants will visit existing research sites and ongoing investigation sites to work with instrumentation, safety equipment, and interact with community leaders and emergency managers for mock hazard response training and planning exercises in cave and karst settings.

Instructors: Dr. Jason polk

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Dr. Jason Polk is a Professor of Geoscience at Western Kentucky University. He serves as Director of the Center for Human GeoEnvironmental Studies (CHNGES) and the HydroAnalytical Lab. Dr. Polk's current research investigates climate change, water resources and sustainability, isotope hydrology and geochemistry, karst resource management, and global climate dynamics. He conducts research in various places all over the world, including the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, South America, and Iceland with expertise karst geoscience, paleoclimate reconstruction, climate teleconnection dynamics, multi-proxy climate record analytics, hydrologic monitoring, water quality and quantity assessment, and isotope geochemistry. Dr. Polk aims to engage students in applied research that addresses both global and local geoenvironmental challenges related to water resources, climate change, and cave and karst processes.

CONTACT: Jason.polk@wku.edu