The Sinkhole That Gobbled Up Eight Corvettes

On February 12, 2014, a sinkhole suddenly opened up under the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, gobbling up eight vintage sports cars. This podcast explores the story behind the sinkhole in a live recording from the National Corvette Museum.

Published on:

December 20, 2022

On February 12, 2014, a sinkhole suddenly opened up under the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, gobbling up eight vintage sports cars. This podcast explores the story behind the sinkhole in a live recording from the National Corvette Museum.

Transcript:

00;00;01;10 - 00;00;29;24
Hal Needham
On February 12th, 2014, a massive sinkhole suddenly opened up underneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The sinkhole gobbled up eight Corvettes, but fortunately did not injure anyone as it opened up at 539 in the morning. Following this event, an international media frenzy brought this story to hundreds of millions of people around the world, as people were fascinated about the story of vintage sports cars falling into a massive sinkhole.

00;00;30;08 - 00;00;55;25
Chris Groves
Hey, everyone, I'm Dr. Howell, host of the Geo Trek podcast. This is episode 59 of the podcast titled The Sinkhole That Gobbled Up eight Corvettes. It's a convert, the companion podcast to last week's podcast, number 58, which introduced the topic of sinkholes. As I traveled around neighboring West Virginia, if you haven't listened to Episode 58 yet, it will give you more background about the physical landscapes in which sinkholes and caves tend to form.

00;00;56;10 - 00;01;18;07
Hal Needham
In summary, they're called karst landscapes that spelled Cave Christie and generally contain a lot of limestone underground. You can learn more about that in episode 58. You know, I was traveling around West Virginia looking at sinkholes, and I thought I could not pass up this opportunity to go over to neighboring Kentucky and get this story about this sinkhole under the Corvette Museum.

00;01;18;16 - 00;01;49;03
Hal Needham
So this podcast was recorded live at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The first interview is with Maria Hughes, media relations and marketing production manager at the museum. We recorded this content in the Skydome Room of the Corvette Museum, the very location where the sinkhole opened up. The room showcases numerous vintage Corvettes along the edges of the room and marks a yellow line on the floor to show the outline of the subterranean cave and a red line to mark the outline of this sinkhole.

00;01;49;21 - 00;02;17;04
Hal Needham
The room also contains a window to look down into the cave and displays one of the Corvettes that was demolished by rocks and boulders when it fell 30 feet into the sinkhole back in 2014. Next to this room, a massive educational exhibit tells the story of the sinkhole by videos, signage and interactive displays. You can even stand in a room that has a 3D animation of the sinkhole and it feels like the cars are falling down on you when you when you experiences.

00;02;17;04 - 00;02;46;05
Hal Needham
They've really spared no expense to share the story of the sinkhole and educate visitors about the science behind them. All this is embedded within the larger story of the amazing history of the Corvette. If you're new to the podcast, everyone go track investigates the impact of extreme weather and natural disasters on individuals and communities. Our goal is to help you improve your decision making, risk assessment and communication related to extreme events so you can take action to make yourself, your family and your community more resilient.

00;02;47;00 - 00;03;16;22
Hal Needham
Hey, before we get into this episode, a quick favor to ask of our listeners. We'd really appreciate if you'd subscribe to this podcast on your favorite podcast platform. Your subscription helps us mark progress, which enables us to make more professional partnerships moving forward and ensures many more episodes of the Geo Track podcast in the future. Hey, so after the interview with Mariah Hughes, Chris Groves, University, distinguished professor of hydro geology at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, will join us to share perspectives on the science behind sinkholes.

00;03;17;00 - 00;03;38;26
Hal Needham
Context on how rare the Corvette sinkhole was and some innovative methods people can use to detect potential sinkholes in caves under their feet. So come along to the National Corvette Museum with me to hear the story of this iconic car and learn more about the sinkhole that opened up in 2014. Hey, go. Truckers were here at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

00;03;38;26 - 00;03;43;25
Mariah
I'm with right here is Mariah. Thank you so much for taking time to come on the podcast any time.

00;03;43;25 - 00;03;46;06
Mariah
Thank you so much for being here. We're glad to have you here.

00;03;46;06 - 00;03;49;03
Hal Needham
Yeah. So you grew up in western Kentucky on a farm near here, huh?

00;03;49;04 - 00;03;54;26
Mariah
I do. I grew up in the area familiar with the area, familiar with cave systems. And growing up in cave Country, our.

00;03;55;05 - 00;04;06;18
Hal Needham
That's right. I see a lot of like horse farms, a lot of agriculture. But like you said, you don't have to spend much time here and you start seeing signs for mammoth cave and other cave systems. There's a lot of caves and open ground in this part of the world.

00;04;06;25 - 00;04;23;28
Mariah
They are mammoth. Cave National Park is just about 30 minutes up the road from us here at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. So it is just right up the road. There's about 370 miles or so of discovered cave there and you know, frequently visit the national park and glad to be from a national park area.

00;04;23;28 - 00;04;27;26
Hal Needham
That's amazing. I'm sure you spent a lot of time there growing up on school field trips and stuff like that.

00;04;27;27 - 00;04;31;04
Mariah
Almost every school field trip was to the to the Cave National Park.

00;04;31;04 - 00;04;36;24
Hal Needham
We're here at the National Corvette Museum. And you said that's a place that you also visited quite a bit before you worked here, right?

00;04;36;24 - 00;04;48;06
Mariah
Yeah. It was a great place for field trips to just about 45 minutes from my elementary school in my high school and frequently visited the NCM for several different field trips and other events in our facility around places too.

00;04;48;15 - 00;05;02;04
Hal Needham
Yeah, you do a great job here with PR. This is my first time at the museum. I'm overwhelmed by how amazing it is not only with current Corvettes that people are picking up to buy off, you know, right off the lot, but also the history of Corvettes. And what's your favorite thing about working here at the museum?

00;05;02;11 - 00;05;22;06
Mariah
It's something fun and new and different every single day. Whether you are a gearhead or not, you can appreciate the history and the story that is Corvette. There's something new and exciting to learn, whether you like shoes and the story of our 1983 Corvette, the individuals who inspired it, or the women and men who worked on it.

00;05;22;11 - 00;05;32;24
Hal Needham
I thought was really cool seeing one of the original Corvettes from 53 and it kind of showing the insides of it and what that looked like. And then you explain to me how it's changed over time. The different I guess we're on the eighth generation.

00;05;33;00 - 00;05;36;21
Mariah
We are we're on the eighth generation of Corvette and that started the 2020 model year.

00;05;36;25 - 00;05;55;06
Hal Needham
Oh, that's awesome. A lot of great history. I recommend for anybody to come to the National Corvette Museum. It's a it's a great educational area and just great if you're into sports cars or just in the national history as well. Maria, you shared how the National Corvette Museum is not just for gearheads and it's not just car history, it's American and world history.

00;05;55;06 - 00;05;58;25
Hal Needham
Could you explain a little bit about like how this ties into global history?

00;05;59;10 - 00;06;17;15
Mariah
So let's take you back to the beginning of the Corvette. It was pre, you know, right after World War Two, post World War Two, the American soldiers had just gotten back from overseas and they were used to seeing these two seater European sports cars like the GTC Roadster. When they got back stateside, we didn't really have anything like that here in the US.

00;06;17;25 - 00;06;38;25
Mariah
So after talk and conversation of we need a two seater sports car, Chevrolet jumped right on it with Harley Earl leading the charge in Marine Scots and other familiar name. You may know him as the inventor of the Soapbox Derby. He's working for Chevrolet Marketing at the time, and they were looking for a name to even go with Corvette, and that came straight out of that see encyclopedia in that meeting.

00;06;39;02 - 00;07;00;06
Mariah
And the word Corvette has two meetings. It was also it was also a small French battleship that was used to weave in and out of the larger battleships during the previous war. It was, you know, the Corvette, the Chevrolet Corvette, a small, fast and piece of two sided sports car machinery that has grown to become America's only sports car.

00;07;00;06 - 00;07;11;16
Hal Needham
So it seems like the concept for it and the name both came out of Europe around World War Two and the GIs, the soldiers coming back to the states saying, wait, why don't we have a two seater sports car and and we ran with it, right?

00;07;11;17 - 00;07;15;27
Mariah
We did. And thankfully, Corvette, it's been running for now 70 years for the 2023 model.

00;07;15;27 - 00;07;32;01
Hal Needham
Now that's really cool. And that helped us, you know, see for folks that come here to the museum that it's not just, again, car history. This is a piece of global history that can help them piece together how how the world works and how even World War Two history relates to our lives today. Yes. So, Maria, let's talk a little bit.

00;07;32;01 - 00;07;43;12
Hal Needham
Maybe we can move over this way and then we have some other visitors here today. Let's talk a little bit about this sinkhole. So explain this sinkhole story here at the Corvette Museum. What happened? When did it happen? And kind of walk us through that story.

00;07;43;18 - 00;07;58;15
Mariah
So the museum was built in 1992, recently did a groundbreaking, and it opened a Labor Day weekend of 1994 when the engineers and the building team were testing the ground to make sure that it was a safe place to build. And they never actually hit any of the key, if not the cave ceiling, that many portion of the cave.

00;07;58;27 - 00;08;28;24
Mariah
So we built the museum here and even expanded on it in 2009 with our expanded Corvette store, the Stingray Grill or museum delivery section or conference center and so on and so forth. On February 12th of 2014, at 539 in the morning, something set off the motion detectors and the security system. And we didn't know what that was until first officials and responders arrived here on the scene, but it was actually a 35 feet deep sinkhole that had opened and swallowed eight of the museum's cars on display.

00;08;28;24 - 00;08;44;26
Hal Needham
Wow. That's amazing. So this opened up, you know, in the pre-dawn hours. It was kind of not in the middle of the night. It was just before that morning shift. So when that first person discovered it, what did they find when they came to the museum? I think you said it's 6:00 in the morning, 21 minutes after the sinkhole opened, a staff came.

00;08;44;26 - 00;08;45;19
Hal Needham
What did they see?

00;08;46;01 - 00;09;02;26
Mariah
So Betty Hardison from our library in our comms came in. She saw a dark room. There was no power. It was hazy. There was smoke in the room. So she stepped out and she thought there was a fire. She called 911 and come to find out when the first responders and officials arrived on the scene, there was not a fire.

00;09;03;01 - 00;09;06;11
Mariah
It was a sinkhole that had opened inside of the museum's exhibit space.

00;09;06;15 - 00;09;22;01
Hal Needham
That's amazing. And like you said, eight of the cars went down with the sinkhole. And what amazed me when I heard this story, you all kind of inspected it had engineers on the scene and really did all those inspections really in that first 24 hours. And I think when we closed like one day, right?

00;09;22;01 - 00;09;41;24
Mariah
One day we're open the next day taking tours. Of course, it was a limited and visit to the museum. You couldn't actually go into that room quite yet of where the sinkhole occurred later on after more inspections were done, more safety checks were done. You could, if you signed a release form, walk into the Sky Dome up to a very extended back barrier to see what the room actually looked like.

00;09;41;29 - 00;09;54;16
Hal Needham
Right. When I told some folks I was coming here and they were like, wait, what are you doing? You're like a weather and disaster scientist. Why are you going there? I told them the story. Everyone had the same question. So did they save the Corvettes? Like what happened to the Corvette to that fell? Everyone wanted to know.

00;09;54;28 - 00;10;11;17
Mariah
All eight Corvettes were extracted from the sinkhole. Three were restored back to their most original state. And that was the one millionth Corvette in 1962, Tuxedo Black Corvette and the 2000 901 Blue Devil. The other five cars, unfortunately, were beyond repair and are still in their damage.

00;10;11;17 - 00;10;19;10
Hal Needham
And if you all come here to the museum, there's actually one on display that was crushed. I mean, I knew that there would be damage, but I didn't expect to see something like that.

00;10;19;21 - 00;10;31;10
Mariah
Yes. So we are living museum. The cars and the stories change on a regular basis here to make sure that no to visit to any individual are the same. So no matter what time you come, you have the possibility of seeing one of the eight single cars.

00;10;31;23 - 00;10;37;27
Hal Needham
So, Maria, it sounds like you're saying out of the eight cars that went in, the whole three were restored. Could you explain a little bit about that restoration?

00;10;38;07 - 00;11;02;27
Mariah
Yes. So three of the cars were restored. Two were completed by General Motors, and that was the 2001 zero one Blue Devil and the one millionth Corvette. The third car restored was the 1962 Tuxedo Black Corvette that you see right behind us, the museum's maintenance and preservation team that takes care and maintains the museum's collection actually did the restoration on that vehicle in about a one year process and unveiled it on the anniversary of the museum sinkhole.

00;11;02;27 - 00;11;13;09
Hal Needham
That's amazing. When I look at that car, I would never think that that car plummeted 35 feet to the bottom of a sinkhole in western Kentucky. But it looks like, you know, it looks in perfect condition.

00;11;13;13 - 00;11;19;03
Mariah
Yeah, there was a little big boy sugar packet that was right under the seat and even that was restored.

00;11;19;03 - 00;11;32;22
Hal Needham
To the quality. That is absolutely amazing. Wow. So you're explaining about how these eight cars went down three were restored. And you mentioned that there was a big boulder just outside the facility that actually crushed one of the vehicles, right?

00;11;32;25 - 00;11;44;23
Mariah
Yes. If you visit the National Corvette Museum and you walk around the property, you look for some Easter eggs along the way, there is a very large boulder in the landscaping and a marker on it that says exactly which sinkhole car it did crash.

00;11;44;27 - 00;11;56;09
Hal Needham
Oh, wow. So can you imagine I mean, just seeing the damage to that one car here on the showroom, it's like, wow, the force of a boulder like that coming down on a car. You can see what it would pretty much total it.

00;11;56;15 - 00;11;56;29
Mariah
Yes.

00;11;57;23 - 00;12;18;14
Hal Needham
You know something that really stands out about your story. I heard that after the sinkhole, obviously, it was a catastrophe. You wouldn't have wanted that here. You wouldn't have wanted to lose those cars and then you had to deal with getting it inspected and all these unforeseen things. But you all kind of turned the lemons into lemonade. Can you explain a little bit about some of the positives that came after that situation?

00;12;18;27 - 00;12;48;19
Mariah
Yes, the museum's visitor ship increased on a yearly basis after the sinkhole occurred. We were getting more than just car enthusiasts, gearhead Corvette lovers and car owners alike coming to the museum. Our audience really expanded. People wanted to see and come to the place where the sinkhole actually happened. I think that it's important for our guests now, even those that do come here after hearing about the events from the sinkhole or just now making it now that it's been several years later to actually understand that when you're here, we're so much more than just the sinkhole.

00;12;48;27 - 00;13;05;09
Mariah
There's a newfound appreciation to those visitors who might come here just for that and an appreciation for America sports car. I mean, we're the only museum in the United States that is dedicated to a single make and model of a car. And we're here a car that's been now in production for 70 years.

00;13;05;16 - 00;13;25;19
Hal Needham
So we're very unique. I've been amazed just at the different this is so kind of multifaceted. You know, we have all the history of Corvettes and then we have people picking up their brand new Corvette today to a thunderous applause of people out of staff out there with the museum. So really cool to see all that and you all took the sinkhole thing and said, wait, that's not going to slow us down.

00;13;26;03 - 00;13;30;11
Hal Needham
If anything, it just drew attention. So people say, wait, what's this Corvette Museum about?

00;13;30;15 - 00;13;31;06
Mariah
Exactly.

00;13;31;26 - 00;13;48;01
Hal Needham
It really good, really good stuff. Do you know, as far as we were talking to you, you grew up in this part of Kentucky. There's a lot of caves around. A lot of them are mapped, but some of them may not be. Is there a sense that a new sinkhole or a cave could open up anywhere in this region?

00;13;48;11 - 00;13;52;24
Hal Needham
Is there a sense among the local, local population that that could happen?

00;13;53;00 - 00;14;15;08
Mariah
Sinkholes are pretty prominent in this area of Kentucky, in south central Kentucky, thankfully, the only one that's opened in the museum property has been, of course, the one in the Scott home. But we feel like this is the safest place to be in Bowling Green in that we now know exactly what's under our feet. But sinkholes are prominent in this area and often found on farms and neighborhood and etc. It's just a part of living in cave country.

00;14;15;08 - 00;14;16;18
Mariah
You have to be aware of it, right?

00;14;16;18 - 00;14;22;27
Hal Needham
You explain because they're so prevalent around here that sinkhole insurance is even offered to a lot of folks, right?

00;14;22;28 - 00;14;32;05
Mariah
It is. Whether you're a homeowner or you have equipment stored in a barn on a farm or a business, you can add on to your insurance policy for sinkhole insurance.

00;14;32;05 - 00;14;49;14
Hal Needham
That makes sense around here where a lot of these holes and fissures and things like that may open up. You explained as well that the cave still exists underneath the museum, but it's but the structure is safe. Can you explain what are some of those structural elements that went into keeping the structure safe despite the fact that there's a cave underneath it?

00;14;49;24 - 00;15;07;14
Mariah
When this ground floor was repaired after the sinkhole occurred, micro portals were installed all throughout the entire sinkhole. So if you're not familiar with what a microbial is, best way to describe it, in my opinion, is if it's the same diameter as a telephone pole, but it's not made out of wood, it's an entirely steel structure.

00;15;07;22 - 00;15;11;20
Hal Needham
And do you know how many micro piles are there just in general? Are there?

00;15;11;20 - 00;15;16;05
Mariah
I guess there's quite a few. Many of them can't remember the exact top of my head right now, but there are quite a few.

00;15;16;05 - 00;15;37;08
Hal Needham
So these are really poles, almost like telephone poles, but they're not made out of wood to kind of reinforce and support the structure. Yeah, that's really interesting. And if you're here at the museum, you can actually go and look down through windows and see the bottom of the cave. I knew 35 feet is pretty far, but when you actually look through the windows, you're like, wow, that is a big drop for a car or a person to take.

00;15;37;08 - 00;15;45;00
Hal Needham
So it's really cool that you preserve that, though. And you're also on the showroom. Explain a little bit about the red and yellow lines that are taped to the floor.

00;15;45;00 - 00;15;54;19
Mariah
So when you visit the museum, there's two outlines on the floor in the Skydome, and those are the cave outline in these outlines, even though the floors are paired, you know exactly where the outline of both of those two things occurred.

00;15;54;20 - 00;16;10;00
Hal Needham
Yeah, that's really interesting. So you can actually see that. And I saw visitors kind of looking to I really like to, you know, I live in a town, Galveston, Texas, that has had a lot of history with flood. And we kind of embrace that history. We have high watermarks everywhere to show people, hey, there was a flood. Here is how high it got.

00;16;10;00 - 00;16;27;19
Hal Needham
Instead of trying to sometimes people say, well, maybe we shouldn't tell people that history, but there is something about preserving the history and saying, hey, this thing exists. But we we documented it. We're using it for education. I think that's kind of what y'all have done here. You've said, hey, this event happened, here's why it happened. And then you've drawn the outline of the sinkhole in the cave.

00;16;27;27 - 00;16;33;15
Hal Needham
But also explain to a lot of people how you've made the facility stronger today, which I think is really cool.

00;16;33;21 - 00;16;47;04
Mariah
Yes. It's not just a part of our history, but we need to tell that information to and we're going to the AM credit Asian process to become an accredited institution now. So things are constantly changing here and we're looking forward to that accreditation going to be hopefully receive it.

00;16;47;10 - 00;17;06;19
Hal Needham
You know, you guys have such a passion too, for education and outreach. So let's say someone is very far from western Kentucky and they're like, I love Corvettes. Maybe they work with an organization that does a lot of education, can you explain how maybe, you know, y'all and other Corvette enthusiasts could maybe come and reach out to people in different parts of the country as well?

00;17;06;21 - 00;17;27;19
Mariah
So we have a Museum in Motion program here at the National Corvette Museum. We're several different trips, so for lack of a better term, depart from either the National Corvette Museum and Bowling Green, Kentucky, or we meet with you in other places across the U.S. So we've called up the resume in motion. You do have to have a Corvette to go on those trips and you do need to drive that Corvette to go on those trips.

00;17;27;19 - 00;17;47;07
Mariah
But a representative from the museum will meet you in, for example, Cleveland, Ohio, will meet 25 Corvettes, two people per Corvette, so a total group of 50. And take you throughout the year you're going to different educational stops along the way. We'll also letting you get out and kind of explore the city in places you might have never been with individuals who have the same passion that you do.

00;17;47;17 - 00;17;59;07
Hal Needham
Well, that's really great. And I didn't understand until I came here that y'all are really a nonprofit with a passion for education. Right. So this is part of your mission, I guess, to get out there and to do education, not only here in bowling Green, but also around the country.

00;17;59;18 - 00;18;23;25
Mariah
Museum is a 523 nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve Corvettes past, present and future. And if you're coming to the museum sometime in the spring of 2023, our education gallery is brand new and will be open then for students and adults of all sizes and ages to come in and learn about the different engineering and design and processes that go into making the Corvette.

00;18;24;01 - 00;18;33;28
Hal Needham
Even as we're here today, we see school students coming in on busses right? So they're getting a lot of, I guess, education about design and engineering and in art.

00;18;33;28 - 00;18;54;09
Mariah
And we're definitely a stream institution, which is science, technology, engineering, art, reading, math, and totally do those letters backwards. But you get the point where we're here to educate on all aspects of Corvette. You know, General Motors is a company that doesn't just employ engineers, staff of the assembly plant or designers, too. There's a communications team that goes into it.

00;18;54;09 - 00;19;09;02
Mariah
There's leadership that goes into it. There's obviously a financial standpoint that goes into it. So we have something that school groups and school ages of all sizes. So if you're a high school group and you're wanting to expose your students to different careers that are out there, we're a great place to stop and meet people of all different backgrounds.

00;19;09;04 - 00;19;19;24
Hal Needham
MIRROR How can people engage with the museum if they want to come and they want to learn about the annual calendar? Or are there certain events that they can come for? I mean, how if people say, hey, when's a good time to go to Bowling Green and go to the museum? What what do you tell them?

00;19;19;24 - 00;19;33;14
Mariah
Always a great time to come to Bowling Green, Kentucky. We have something going on pretty much every month. And if you want to stay up to date on the latest information, you can visit us online at Corvette Museum dot org or follow us on social media and or National Corvette Museum.

00;19;33;24 - 00;19;44;23
Hal Needham
Where I really appreciate you taking time. This is an amazing museum. I'd recommend for anybody to come here and again, really cool that you documented a natural hazard that happened under the museum taking something that and turn it into something good.

00;19;45;07 - 00;19;46;10
Mariah
Thank you. We're educated.

00;19;46;19 - 00;20;09;04
Hal Needham
Thank you. Thank you, Mariah, for sharing those insights about the sinkhole event and for sharing your personal perspectives about what it's like to live with this sinkhole threat out here in Cave Country. A conversation with Maria led me to have even more questions about sinkholes in this area of the world. For example, how rare is a sinkhole? The magnitude of the one that opened up under the Corvette Museum in this region?

00;20;09;14 - 00;20;36;05
Hal Needham
And number two, what can people do to find out if a cave may be lurking underneath their home, ready to open up into a catastrophic sinkhole? University Distinguished Professor Chris Groves of Western Kentucky University was able to answer these questions in a in an interview we had after my visit to the museum. Hey, everybody on the Geo Track podcast, we're here with University Distinguished Professor of Hydro Geology at Western Kentucky University, Chris Groves.

00;20;36;05 - 00;20;38;05
Hal Needham
Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

00;20;38;26 - 00;20;40;20
Chris Groves
Well, my pleasure and very happy to be here.

00;20;40;25 - 00;20;55;03
Hal Needham
Chris, I know you've done a lot of research on different things related to geology, including sinkholes, caves, all of that western Kentucky. We're focusing this episode on what happened there at the National Corvette Museum. You are at that far from there, right? As far as your location?

00;20;56;08 - 00;21;02;16
Chris Groves
No. And I was at museum 830 that morning. Is it? It's just about three miles from here, so.

00;21;02;23 - 00;21;07;10
Hal Needham
Oh, wow, you're that close. So you were called over the day of the sinkhole event at the museum?

00;21;08;04 - 00;21;19;12
Chris Groves
Yeah. One of the people there was, you know, a whole bunch people got it kind of converged on it. And but yeah, I had an opportunity to get over there and do an early assessment.

00;21;19;12 - 00;21;20;08
Hal Needham
So what was that.

00;21;20;08 - 00;21;22;28
Chris Groves
Like working on the project that much in the end?

00;21;22;29 - 00;21;29;28
Hal Needham
But what was it like showing up right after it happened?

00;21;29;28 - 00;21;47;19
Chris Groves
Well, the first thing is so so it's in as I guess you saw, there's a, you know, sort of a large room, you know, under the, you know, the yellow area. You know, it's just a big sort of a flat area with a bunch of Corvettes. And and it was it was just awesome, you know, this kind of gaping hole in the floor.

00;21;47;19 - 00;22;08;02
Chris Groves
And by that time it had happened, well, four or five in the morning. And so that was, you know, a couple of hours had gone by, but there was still dust, you know? I mean, you still hit those very you know, something was happening. And and I just think awesome is really just a word. It was just really hard to believe and people were shocked.

00;22;08;02 - 00;22;11;17
Chris Groves
And, and so yeah, just, just taking it all in.

00;22;12;00 - 00;22;19;04
Hal Needham
Chris, how did the size of that sinkhole compare to other sinkholes, you see? And I mean, was this a very large sinkhole? Was it medium? How did it relate?

00;22;20;14 - 00;22;57;19
Chris Groves
Yeah, I think a really important aspect for for understanding sinkholes, you know, generally and certainly in south central Kentucky, where we have a lot of them, is that. Well, the first thing is that that was an enormous sinkhole. You know, that that was that was very, very rare. And I think the first thing to understand is that there's essentially sort of two mechanisms, you know, in many areas, including here, that that causes, you know, catastrophic collapse events at different scales.

00;22;57;19 - 00;23;22;09
Chris Groves
And so there's the two situations are one that's much, much more common. That was not the case at the Corvette Museum, was that you have, you know, a certain amount of soil and, you know, then down some distance under the soil is the top of the bedrock and then the bedrock below that. And the thing that characterizes these cast areas is the bedrock is dissolved out.

00;23;22;09 - 00;23;39;21
Chris Groves
The analogy of Swiss cheese, you know, which is imperfect, but it kind of gives the sense of it. And so but the main thing is you have all these voids, these spaces in the bedrock, you know, underneath of everything. Some of those are caves that are big enough to walk around in. But the but a very common situation is water.

00;23;39;29 - 00;24;04;22
Chris Groves
Rainwater lands on the soil and goes down through the soil and then carries soil down into the voids below. And when that happens, when that soil washes down, now you're actually getting voids in the soil. You're getting kind of these caves as the soil is kind of going down, you know, from beneath down, down into the you know, into the bedrock and the holes in the bedrock and so you get these pockets in the, you know, in the soil.

00;24;04;22 - 00;24;31;17
Chris Groves
And they they grow and grow and grow and eventually they collapse. And now they tend to be much smaller than what you saw Corbet Museum. But if they're under foundations or roads, you know, they, they store very serious problem and those happen all the time. What, what happened at the Corvette Museum is and the the other kind of situation and this was actually a huge, you know, a large cave passage, actually, the cave collapsing.

00;24;31;17 - 00;24;56;15
Chris Groves
And so so it's usually the soil is washed out and into the cave. And then the soil forms these pockets. Who knows what? That's what collapses. And in the case of the Corvette Museum and then one other one in Bowling Green that happened some years ago, that was a similar scale to the Corvette Museum. I've been here for 40 years, and that's the only two very large catastrophic collapses.

00;24;57;00 - 00;25;15;13
Chris Groves
The one in Richmond Lane was in 2000, two, and that was right in the middle of the road, like a four lane road right in the afternoon of four cars. Just it just just fell in right under four cars going down the road. And and they drove into it. And happily, no one was hurt, but it was just, you know, very similar kind of scale.

00;25;15;17 - 00;25;18;27
Chris Groves
And that was a cave collapsing in, you know, large cave and just like a Corvette using it.

00;25;18;27 - 00;25;26;12
Hal Needham
So in both of those cases, it's just a large cave collapse. It's not really like a depression from soil going down into a hole beneath the ground.

00;25;27;02 - 00;25;45;00
Chris Groves
Right. Those were cases that that that it just happened to be there were large cave rooms, you know, actually within the bedrock that the ceilings of the cave rooms came up relatively close to the surface. And it was just just chance, you know, as far as the buildings in the, you know, the infrastructure of being being up there.

00;25;45;01 - 00;25;50;03
Chris Groves
And so but yeah, it was actually the cave, you know, a large cave room collapsing. Yeah.

00;25;50;09 - 00;26;03;29
Hal Needham
How often would a sinkhole, at least as big as the magnitude of the sinkhole underneath the Corvette Museum? How often would something of that size open, say, in the western half of the state of Kentucky?

00;26;03;29 - 00;26;34;29
Chris Groves
Well well, primarily the it it's the definitely sort of the south central Kentucky. It's very, very focused cars here the and something that size. Well look it said in the 40 years I've been living here there's there's only been two there was traditionally one and then the Corvette Museum. So so those are things that happen. They happen regularly on what you could call a sort of geologic time scales, you know, over thousands or hundreds of thousands of years, every once in a while it just gets it's going to fall out.

00;26;35;21 - 00;26;46;16
Chris Groves
But over human lifetimes, you know, I wouldn't be surprised, you know, if you know, another one doesn't happen, you know, certainly in my lifetime. But but these are just very, very rare, rare events.

00;26;46;26 - 00;27;01;07
Hal Needham
Yeah, that makes sense. So it sounds like this is pretty unusual. And then let alone opening up under this showroom full of Corvettes, it's in time. And then also rare in space, right? I mean, not that many. So it really maybe that's what drew so much attention to this story.

00;27;02;00 - 00;27;08;09
Chris Groves
Yeah. Well, in the end, it was, you know, it was under a bunch of Corvettes. If it was a different time, it could have been under a troop of Boy Scout.

00;27;08;20 - 00;27;26;12
Hal Needham
Well, and I wanted to ask you about that. I remember when I was a new father, I had boy girl twins. I remember putting them down in their crib at night when they were, say, two months old. Right. And they're just just watching them sleep. It's they're completely peaceful. No, not a worry in the world. But as a parent, you would do anything to protect your kids, right?

00;27;26;22 - 00;27;45;29
Hal Needham
If I lived down the road from the Corvette Museum when that happened, I know my first thought would be, is there a sinkhole that's going to open underneath our house? You know, is there is that is that an unfounded fear? Is that a reasonable fear? And then if so, are there things that people can do to test if maybe the ground is hollow underneath their home?

00;27;46;28 - 00;28;18;28
Chris Groves
Well, no, that's a very well, I would say it's legitimate in the sense that, you know, there is a pretty good probability these things can happen, you know, in, you know, pretty much anywhere, you know, in this kind of geologic range, I would say, in terms of needing to be feared, fearful, fearful of it, you know, I wouldn't get you know, that worked up about it, you know, you know, like, you know, obviously, if if you know, if a crib was sleeping, kids fell into the hole, you saw the Corvette, see if that would be bad.

00;28;19;05 - 00;28;41;18
Chris Groves
The probability of that is is just in or, you know, it's vanishingly small. So so, you know, these are real concern. But but it's not in Kentucky. It's not like you need to worry about your house falling in and, you know, like in Florida that that happens. There was a number of years ago a house fell in a sinkhole and there was a guy in there just gone, you know, so so people die in these things, but not here in south central Kentucky.

00;28;42;12 - 00;29;06;27
Chris Groves
And so so so the question is what, you know, what can we do? Can we maybe, you know, know in advance something about what they're going to happen? And generally, the answer is, is is no. And in a broad sense, that is a very active area of investigation. You know, the people are sort of figuring out, you know, how to eliminate those hazards and the.

00;29;07;00 - 00;29;37;19
Chris Groves
Well well, I say no. For for most people, there are there's a set of techniques that are collected. We've got geophysics and geophysics has to do this. Part of geophysics has to do with using various instruments, you know, like like an x ray, you know, down to the earth, not x rays themselves, but different kinds of methods that would find voids or, you know, kind of map out underground, you know, using electricity or in fact, a very interesting one is is gravity.

00;29;38;08 - 00;30;00;07
Chris Groves
There's there it turns out, you know, a very short physics lesson is that gravity has to do with the attraction between two objects that have some mass. So when you're standing on the bathroom scale, the amount that you're pressing down on it in the dial is going up, depends on your mass and the mass of the earth. And so if your mass goes up, you press down harder on it now.

00;30;00;09 - 00;30;23;01
Chris Groves
But what happens is that the mass of the earth, you know, the other part of that underneath is not constant everywhere. It's different under different places. And a major thing that makes a difference of, you know, you know, of the force of gravity at some point is the density of them zero underneath of you. So if you have very, very dense rock, then there's more mass.

00;30;23;01 - 00;30;46;07
Chris Groves
It's going to be pulling down a little bit more. If you have less dense rock or or more soil, then it's there's less density. You know, it's not pulling down quite as hard. A perfect case of this is a cave because a cave is air. And if you're standing on top of a cave, then there's a big pocket of air near there that has much less density than the limestone bedrock that would have otherwise been there.

00;30;46;17 - 00;30;54;19
Chris Groves
And so there are portable meters that you can kind of go across on the surface and actually measure. You can find caves because there's less gravity, you know.

00;30;54;24 - 00;31;04;29
Hal Needham
So, Chris, you're you're saying you could take the weight of something and it's going to slightly be different depending on the mass beneath you. And that could show possible voids or caverns underneath your feet.

00;31;05;21 - 00;31;26;22
Chris Groves
Yeah, that's right. So you actually weigh less standing on top of Mammoth Cave than than you do in other national parks, I guess. And so yeah, that's done. The reason that I kind of and there's, there's other methods, you know, also that's just one interesting one. But really what the problem is, it's very, very expensive to have it done, you know, because the equipment's expensive.

00;31;26;22 - 00;31;45;22
Chris Groves
You know, there's there's training and so so it's not something that typically homeowners should, you know, there are cases, you know, when they're you know, when they're building, you know, large buildings that they'll do various types of geophysics. You know, it just really depends on the, you know, the cost and the, you know, sort of the, you know, the risk assessments and that sort of stuff.

00;31;45;29 - 00;31;53;16
Chris Groves
But generally, geophysics is not something that for most people, you know, that they're going to invest that kind of money, you know, so, you know, building a house.

00;31;53;16 - 00;32;01;27
Hal Needham
If some of our listeners get on the scale after the holidays and their weight has gone up, should they sleep well at night? Does that maybe mean that the the earth below them is more solid?

00;32;03;04 - 00;32;06;00
Chris Groves
Well, that's what we're looking for next. They need to remember.

00;32;06;14 - 00;32;31;05
Hal Needham
We're trying to encourage our listeners don't don't worry about gaining weight. It could be it could be slightly about the mass beneath your feet. That's fascinating. What about remote sensing in light? Ah, I mean, can could there be ways that satellites, for example, or airborne photography, could measure the the the elevation of the surface of the ground and look for slight depressions or changes in the ground elevation.

00;32;31;19 - 00;33;00;19
Chris Groves
Yeah. Yeah. There, there, in fact is a on a group at the university of Kentucky that's that's doing exactly that kind of research. So so as you mentioned, light our stories about the limitation that it can't penetrate. You know, you know, it just sort of bounces off a solid object so it can't see down into the caves. But, you know, as you mentioned, it's it's it's a it's a way, you know, that, you know, energy comes down and bounces back, you know, to the receiver up in a plane or wherever.

00;33;01;00 - 00;33;27;08
Chris Groves
And you can make very, very, very highly, very accurate maps of the, you know, the nature of the ground surface. And there are I'm really not, you know, on the, you know, sort of the latest details of the research I'm aware of it. But there's a group that is working on on light our data and using artificial intelligence, you know, for light our data because it's kind of one of those things where it's sort of sounds pretty doable.

00;33;27;08 - 00;33;45;27
Chris Groves
But the devil's in the details as many things. So, so so they're doing using artificial intelligence to use light our data to see if there's a way to, you know, sort of train, you know, these these programs. So, you know, the kind of social know places that are more potential for fortune goals.

00;33;46;02 - 00;34;04;00
Hal Needham
Do you know offhand, are different groups interested in the risk of a sinkhole opening up, maybe insurance building and zoning planning? I mean, is that something that really comes up as far as applications to real life? Or are they so rare that people say, well, you just can't pinpoint where they might happen?

00;34;04;00 - 00;34;30;05
Chris Groves
No, no, no. There's a lot a lot of interest and it really most the place that I think the you know, get this from from my understanding, you know, as far as like regulations, development, insurance companies and all that sort of stuff, you know, the risk assessment is in Florida that is huge and, you know, good because Florida like heroes, you know, like what you saw at the Corvette Museum, that's that's extremely rare.

00;34;30;05 - 00;34;54;07
Chris Groves
You know, one or something like that may or may not happen again. You know, in our lifetimes in Florida, those things, those big sinkholes happen regularly. And it's very different geologic situation. Well, you know, it's similar in ways, but there's a lot of differences. And so so sinkhole, you know, the whole risk assessment insurance, you know, it's a huge thing down in Florida and here it's kind of on people's radars.

00;34;54;07 - 00;34;57;10
Chris Groves
But we kind of, you know, kind of in the background.

00;34;57;25 - 00;35;05;11
Hal Needham
Going back to Florida, would this be generally most of the state or certain pockets geographically?

00;35;05;11 - 00;35;36;16
Chris Groves
Not not the whole state, but but certainly a lot of it. Yeah. And the I can't say right off the top of my head what, what the percentage would be. But yeah, I think the significant part of it is just sort of different geologic layers, geologic formations and a lot of the you know, say and you know, very roughly, I've cut my head sort of central Florida in sort of north central Florida, you know, Orlando, you know, some of the big urban areas, you know, are very prone to this.

00;35;36;16 - 00;35;39;29
Chris Groves
It covers a large area and there's been very big, big sinkholes down there.

00;35;40;16 - 00;35;50;25
Hal Needham
Chris, we really appreciate your insights on this. Any any last take home messages you'd like to share with our listeners about sinkholes, caves, cars, landscapes? Um.

00;35;52;12 - 00;36;22;00
Chris Groves
No, as the the you know, these are these these cars. Landscapes are really, you know, some of the, you know, the most beautiful, you know, the, you know, exotic, you know, just just wonderful landscapes. You know, one of the, you know, what I call a sort of our bonus landscape is just here in south central Kentucky. There's there's at least a thousand miles of of passages that have been explored, you know, so there's this whole bonus landscape.

00;36;22;04 - 00;36;22;24
Hal Needham
Yeah, right.

00;36;23;05 - 00;36;48;00
Chris Groves
And when I look at it, you know, you know, I've told generations of students that, you know, if you just sort of popped on the earth somewhere and you walk for 500 miles, you'd see interesting and weird things. And it's the same in those hidden landscape underneath of us right here. And so these are just fantastic, beautiful landscape, but at the same time, you know, there's there's a lot of environmental problems and that's sure, you know, the to sort I call it myself the you know, the risk of sinkholes is what I call the price of living in paradise.

00;36;48;12 - 00;37;07;24
Chris Groves
But, you know, there's there's you know, there's environmental challenges with water supply, you know, incarcerations, you know, both quality, you know, quality of water or quantity of water. First of all, because the ground, you know, with this, again, Swiss cheese like aspect, you know, rain lands on the surface and it just goes wherever it lands, you know? Sure.

00;37;07;29 - 00;37;16;18
Chris Groves
It just goes right underground. So that means we don't have much water at the surface. So that's an issue when it goes underground quickly. It's also carrying fertilizers.

00;37;16;27 - 00;37;18;09
Hal Needham
Sure. Sure.

00;37;18;09 - 00;37;38;09
Chris Groves
Septic tanks, etc.. So, so so it's a to it or, you know, it's a these are beautiful, fascinating landscapes. There's economic development. You know, you mention it in your West Virginia show about some of the core caves, you know, in eastern West Virginia. Those are places that otherwise I wouldn't have much, you know, much opportunities for economic development, you know, in some of those rural areas.

00;37;38;16 - 00;37;44;08
Chris Groves
So so, you know, these are the most fantastic landscapes. You know, in a lot of ways, there's town.

00;37;44;14 - 00;37;56;04
Hal Needham
I felt like it was amazing getting underground and just being like, wow, I'm in a landscape. Not a whole lot of people have seen, you know? And was it did you say there were a thousand miles of explored caves in Kentucky? Is that right? Yeah.

00;37;56;13 - 00;38;20;21
Chris Groves
They had them up. So so Mammoth Cave itself is, like I said, the largest known caves. And it's it's 426 is official like now. But but it and other caves here are still being explored. You know, they're and I could go on and add but but just to talk about and so so that's mainly caves you know the world's longest cave the world's longest cave is is also parts of it are also the cave national park.

00;38;21;02 - 00;38;42;12
Chris Groves
And so they're just hundreds of miles of this stuff. The and in fact, what happens is, you know, you say is as far as the, you know, being someplace that few people will go, you know, here in this part of Kentucky. One reason in fact, the reason I live here and a lot of other people have been attracted here is is for this very reason and a mammoth cave.

00;38;42;12 - 00;39;02;01
Chris Groves
There's expedition. So every month that, you know, ten expeditions a year where people are coming from around the country and they're going they're going into the cave, you know, you know, very organized, like a military operation. You know, they'll they'll go back in there, you know, in small teams and basically go to the end of exploration and pick up where the last group went off.

00;39;02;01 - 00;39;04;22
Chris Groves
And these are places that no nobody has ever seen before.

00;39;04;22 - 00;39;13;16
Hal Needham
That's amazing. The picture just under under your feet underground. You could your hiking boots could step on on a rock that no one has ever stepped on before.

00;39;13;25 - 00;39;15;17
Chris Groves
Oh, yeah. It happens, you know. Well, crawling.

00;39;16;05 - 00;39;28;01
Hal Needham
Yeah, or crawling. Hey, Chris, I wanted to ask you, how many miles of unexplored cave would you guess there are in Kentucky? Have you had to take a guess? Could you even estimate that?

00;39;28;01 - 00;39;54;04
Chris Groves
It's hard to say. You know, the the fascinating part of it is that we know well, for a mammoth cave, you know, and these other these other big caves, man, the cave is just really gets a lot of attention because it's the biggest that we know about. But that mapping expedition or, you know, that mapping process has been going on, you know, essentially, you know, once a month since 1957 and they're not done yet.

00;39;54;09 - 00;40;17;28
Chris Groves
Yeah. So so there's there's surely hundreds more miles, you know, before it's all done. Well, one of the things with a divergent you might say one of the interesting things that's happened now is that mammoth came, you know, very much of the identity of the cave. And those of us that sort of, you know, work here with it is is wrapped up in the fact that it's always known cave in the world.

00;40;18;13 - 00;40;44;13
Chris Groves
Well, it turns out a thing that has just happened in 2022 is four years know number of is that you know keep track of this sort of stuff have been watching these caves down in Mexico and that that had been growing growing growing you know by exploration completely underwater which is crazy. But it turns out now the second longest cave in the world and the fourth long is cave in the world are in Mexico near each other.

00;40;44;22 - 00;40;48;15
Chris Groves
And what happened in March for the first time, if they connect, they are longer than man.

00;40;48;24 - 00;40;51;05
Hal Needham
Oh, that's interesting. What part of Mexico is that? Do you know?

00;40;51;18 - 00;41;02;26
Chris Groves
It's fantastic. Yeah, yeah. Hundreds of miles underwater. And so, so the whole the thing is that, you know, this underground world is still being explored. So you're seeing new things that no human has ever seen before.

00;41;02;28 - 00;41;05;25
Hal Needham
Chris, do you know offhand what region of Mexico that's in?

00;41;06;22 - 00;41;24;10
Chris Groves
Oh, yeah. I was just down there in July. Yeah, it's actually close to ignore Cancun, is it? Sure. You know, just south of Cancun is is to Lune, you know, another resort. And it's just it's all over. It's all underneath it. Home. Sure. So, yeah, it's fantastic. Yeah, we're, we're actually working on a collaboration with them.

00;41;24;18 - 00;41;40;09
Hal Needham
I was just into bloom last August for my first international hurricane chase. Yeah. The eye of hurricane grays came right over us into Lume, but a lot of the locals that I rode out that hurricane with, they were telling me about extensive caverns and all kinds of beautiful stuff. They said, you have to come back and check that out.

00;41;40;16 - 00;41;46;03
Hal Needham
Chris, really appreciate you coming on the podcast. You are a wealth of knowledge with this. How can people find you online?

00;41;47;05 - 00;41;58;24
Chris Groves
Yeah, we're easy to find. So I direct an outfit called the Crawford Hydrology Laboratory and we're at Western Kentucky University. And and you can find our Web page very easily.

00;41;59;08 - 00;42;06;27
Hal Needham
Thank you, Chris. We've been with Chris Groves, University, distinguished professor of Hydro geology at Western Kentucky University. Appreciate you coming on the podcast.

00;42;07;15 - 00;42;08;12
Chris Groves
Great. Thank you very much.

00;42;09;19 - 00;42;26;28
Hal Needham
Thank you, Chris, for taking time to give us all great perspective on sinkholes and caves. Wow. What an amazing episode of the Geo Trek podcast. We love taking you to these places to learn about their extreme weather and disaster history and and just give you more context about things you can even do to help prepare and make yourselves more resilient.

00;42;27;06 - 00;42;44;13
Hal Needham
As I look back at this week's interviews, three things really stand out to me. Number one, I was relieved when Chris Growe shared that sinkholes of this magnitude are very rare, he said. In 40 years of living and working in this region, he's only come across two sinkholes of this scale. That's good news and should hopefully be a relief to anyone living in Cave Country.

00;42;44;21 - 00;43;02;21
Hal Needham
It sounds like there's a very small chance that you would ever personally encounter a sinkhole like the one under the National Corvette Museum. Even if you lived in a car landscape that supports caves and sinkholes. I also like that Chris explained some of the ways scientists can use to detect potential sinkholes. It makes sense that remote sensing and light are used.

00;43;02;21 - 00;43;29;02
Hal Needham
So remote sensing is the science of obtaining geospatial data from a distance, often through the use of satellite imagery or air photos from planes. LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distance to the Earth's surface surface. According to Noah, it can pick up small changes in ground elevation and even detect like where depressions are forming, which could indicate caves or sinkholes really in the area.

00;43;29;14 - 00;43;50;02
Hal Needham
I was really shocked to hear about the method that uses weight to indicate that areas may have caverns under them. But when Chris explained how measuring weight depends on the mass of the object and the mass of the ground beneath them, it really made sense. So for those of you looking to move that dial on the scale, maybe after the holidays consider taking a trip to Mammoth Cave and maybe measuring your weight above a cavern.

00;43;50;02 - 00;44;11;14
Hal Needham
You'll be a little bit lighter. These insights from Chris were really one of the three big take home from this podcast for me. Number two take home message from Mariah. I thought it was really interesting when she shared that the National Corvette Museum uses micro piles to stabilize the site. She explained them as long rods or poles, almost like telephone poles, but made of steel instead of wood.

00;44;11;26 - 00;44;42;25
Hal Needham
The sinkhole exhibit displays a micro pile and defines a micro pile as a small diameter 5 to 7 inches steel column drilled into the ground filled with grout and reinforcing bars, which bond to the bedrock below the cave. It says that after the micro piles were installed around accessible portions, the spire and around the perimeter of the building, four more micro piles were added around the red spire to fully stabilize it and an additional 46 micro piles were added under the room of the Skydome.

00;44;43;14 - 00;45;08;02
Hal Needham
That's a lot of micro piles. And like Mariah said, it said it's probably the safest place around these adaptations. Reminded me of the stories last week from Lewisburg, West Virginia. Whereas where A-frame structure or caisson was built under the Walmart and Wal-Mart parking lot to stabilize the area as it sits over a massive cavern, this encouraged me that steps can be taken to secure and stabilize locations that are over sinkholes and caves.

00;45;08;17 - 00;45;37;16
Hal Needham
The key is fasten really fastening such supports into the deeper bedrock so that they're stable. So you want to fasten to that bedrock deep below so that really nothing's going to move. And your site above be stable. The number three take home message and this is probably the biggest take home message for me from this podcast is really looking at the extent to which the museum took a bad situation, really a massive natural disaster that opened up underneath their facility and turned it into something very positive for themselves and their visitors.

00;45;37;28 - 00;45;59;11
Hal Needham
They've looked at this as an opportunity to educate both children and adults about the science behind sinkholes and took steps to turn lemons into lemonade. By using the publicity from this event to their advantage, consider these facts that I learned in the sinkhole exhibit at the National Corvette Museum. The museum experienced a 65% attendance jump in the year 2014.

00;45;59;11 - 00;46;26;04
Hal Needham
So keep in mind, the sinkhole happened in February of 2014. That year, attendance was up 65%. They estimate the value from the publicity of the sinkhole is approximate only $22 million. Let me say that again. The value from the publicity of this event is around $22 million. Just let that soak in. The video of the sinkhole collapse on the museum's YouTube channel has been viewed 8.5 million times.

00;46;26;17 - 00;46;56;14
Hal Needham
They gained 100,000 Facebook fans shortly after the sinkhole event. They installed three webcams in the Sky Dome so fans could watch the ongoing car recovery live. And they also sold 1500 jars of sinkhole dirt in the year 2014. So this is really interesting. They attribute their publicity explosion to their engagement in social media. A lot of our recent podcasts over the last three months talk about the use of social media to engage people with extreme weather and disaster forecasting and risk messaging.

00;46;56;25 - 00;47;25;15
Hal Needham
A sign in the sinkhole exhibit at the Corvette Museum reads this and I'm going to quote it Social media has completely changed the game in times of crisis. It has allowed us to share news, photos and videos with fans, supporters and the media almost as soon as it happens. It also allows an element of conversation and lightheartedness while information on the Internet can spread like a virus, we are very thankful for the ability to share and spread news directly from the museum so quickly.

00;47;25;25 - 00;47;48;25
Hal Needham
So they look at this publicity jump not as just a random thing, but they were very intentional and engaging constantly over social media to really grow their audience and use this as an opportunity. So let me throw out these questions to you. If you live and work in a disaster prone area, have you considered that your biggest opportunity for publicity may come during or after a natural disaster?

00;47;48;25 - 00;48;09;22
Hal Needham
For a small window of time, the eyes of the world may be on your community for better or worse. What are ways that you can use an extreme weather event or natural disaster to engage with the world and help them know more about who you are and what you're all about? Where can you install webcams and make live video feeds available for people to watch a blizzard or hurricane strike unfold in your community?

00;48;10;03 - 00;48;31;14
Hal Needham
How can you document the severity of the event through high watermarks on downtown buildings or signage at a museum or visitor center? Extreme weather or natural disasters become part of the fabric of a community or region, and wise leadership will actually embrace these stories. Try, instead of trying to hide them, embracing them, and looking for opportunities to increase visitor ship and tourism following such events.

00;48;31;23 - 00;48;55;21
Hal Needham
I call such tourism resiliency tourism. I've personally been been involved with it for more than five years. I live in the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history, happened in my community. And I started doing research on the 1900 storm and other massive floods in coastal Texas back in 2016 2017. And visitors used to come all the time. Tourists would come into our library every day and ask, Where's the hurricane tour?

00;48;55;22 - 00;49;16;17
Hal Needham
And the librarian said, We don't have a hurricane tour. And I thought, you know, people are really interested in the the story behind this. Why don't we launch a hurricane tour to tell people the story? That type of thing is exactly what they've done here at the National Corvette Museum. They've embraced this story. They've thought a lot of people are interested, let's step out, take initiative, explain the science, and just use it as an opportunity.

00;49;16;17 - 00;49;40;05
Hal Needham
Anyway, I could go on all day because I love when people turn negatives into positives. That's certainly what they've done at the National Corvette Museum. Well, we're out of time for this podcast. Thanks. Along for coming on the ride this week. And last week when we were talking about caves and sinkholes in Kentucky and West Virginia, next week we're going to wrap up the 2022 calendar year with a look back at the top ten memories from the Geo Track podcast in this past year.

00;49;40;05 - 00;49;58;10
Hal Needham
And we're going to really go to these places again and kind of explore the top ten moments in the Geo Track podcast for 2022 is said Don't miss that episode, but definitely have a merry Christmas. Have happy holidays with your family and your community and I'll catch up with you next week on the GEO Track podcast.

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