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UC Geoscientists Co-Author New Guide Outlining Landslide Facts

A collaboration among University of Cincinnati geologists and engineers working with state geologists from Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana has produced a brief and informative guide to landslides in the Cincinnati region, an area often called the landslide capital of the United States.

Date: 9/2/2013 8:00:00 AM
By: Greg Hand
Phone: (513) 556-1822

UC ingot   A handy new guide to landslides in the Cincinnati region is now available, coordinated by University of Cincinnati geologists in collaboration with all three Tristate geological surveys and Duke Energy. The pocket-sized guide will be of interest to everyone who lives, works or owns property in the area known as the landslide capital of the United States.

“There was a real need for this sort of easy-to-use publication,” said Paul E. Potter, emeritus professor of geology in UC’s McMicken College of Arts & Sciences.


The state of Ohio agrees. A publication of Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources reports, “The Cincinnati area has one of the highest per-capita costs due to landslide damage of any city in the United States.”

The city of Cincinnati boasts nearly 50 miles of city-owned retaining walls and calls “some of the most dynamic hillsides anywhere” an “ongoing challenge.”

The guide, “Landslides and Your Property,” will be available from all three Tristate geological surveys and the Cincinnati Museum Center. The guide explains the most common types of landslides, the geology that causes landslides and suggests ways to avoid landslide problems. 

According to UC geology professor J. Barry Maynard, one of the guide’s co-authors, “The bottom line is, we need to work with our hillsides carefully. We shouldn’t avoid our hillsides. We just need to understand how to develop hillside properties appropriately.”

The guide developed out of a continuing education program prepared by Maynard with Tim Agnello, who holds a degree in engineering geology from UC. 

“It’s a good program, but it is focused on a professional audience,” Maynard said. “We wanted to reach more of the public who are affected by landslides.”

The geologic culprit behind the majority of Cincinnati’s landslides is a layer of bedrock known to geologists as the Kope formation. This layer, mostly composed of a soft rock called shale, underlies much of the Cincinnati region. When shale gets wet, Potter said, it erodes easily and moves downslope.

“In preparing this guide,” Potter said, “the UC geology department was instrumental in getting the three state geological surveys together to create a regional map of the Kope over a 10-county area.”

The map, compiled by the Kentucky Geological Survey with cooperation from the Ohio and Indiana surveys, is a centerpiece of the guide.

To produce the 4,000 copies of “Landslides and Your Property,” Duke Energy provided publication support.

Participating in the development of “Landslides and Your Property” were:
  • Paul E. Potter, professor emeritus of geology, University of Cincinnati
  • Mark Bowers, associate professor in the School of Advanced Structures, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Cincinnati
  • J. Barry Maynard, professor of geology, University of Cincinnati
  • Matthew W. Crawford, Geologic Hazards Section, Kentucky Geological Survey
  • Gerald A. Weisenfluh, associate state geologist, Kentucky Geological Survey
  • Tim Agnello, principal, Ohio Valley Landslides, LLC
Copies of “Landslides and Your Property” may be obtained from the Kentucky Geological Survey by calling 859-257-3896 or (toll free) 877-778-7827. 

The guide will also be available from the Ohio Geological Survey and the Indiana Geological Survey as well as the bookstore at the Cincinnati Museum Center.