Geology Matters - Emergency Managers

Potential Geologic Issues for Emergency Managers

Geological hazards which have impacted North Carolina include earthquakes, landslides, sinkholes, abandoned mines, storm surge, tsunamis, acid producing rock, and shrink/swell clays.

By using geologic and topographic maps, geologist can provide detailed information to emergency managers so that operation plans can be written and exercised to respond to and recover from disasters.  In addition these data can be used to reduce the impact of disaster by strengthening buildings and other infrastructure, as well as not locating critical facilities and infrastructure in hazard-prone zones.

Geologic hazard maps show the expected level of ground shaking from earthquakes; the initiation points, paths and runout areas of prior landslides; the locations of existing and expected sinkholes;  the locations of abandoned underground mines; the potential run-up areas from tropical storm surge or tsunamis; areas where naturally occurring groundwater contaminants are present in groundwater; areas where acid producing rock can detrimentally impact road infrastructure; and areas where building foundations can be destroyed by the rapid shrinking and swelling of certain clays. 

Potential geologic issues and/or hazards encountered in North Carolina can include the following:

Ground collapse: old mines and prospects and sinkholes 

Slope movements and landslides

Rippable vs non-rippable earth material

Expansive soils (shrink swell clays)

Acid-producing rock

Groundwater – quantity and quality with respect to geology

Radon in air and groundwater – The Geologic Link

Arsenic - Naturally occurring Arsenic in groundwater 


Coastal Hazards

When the Ground Moves – A Citizen’s Guide to Geologic Hazards in North Carolina  - NC Geological Survey Informational Circular 32 provides a simple review of some of the geologic hazards that can be encountered in North Carolina. 

A paper titled - Geoscience Education for Realtors, Appraisers, Home Inspectors, and Homeowners, provides an overview of geologic hazards in the Colorado Front Range area and their potential to impact property values.  These same concepts can be applied to geologic hazards and possible impact on home sites in North Carolina.  Link to abstract of paper: