Southeastern Section–55th Annual Meeting (23–24 March 2006)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 10:20 AM


KIEFER, John D., Kentucky Geological Survey, Univ of Kentucky, 228 Mining & Mineral Resources Bldg, Lexington, KY 40506-0107,

Donald C. Haney completed his Ph.D. in 1966 at the University of Tennessee with a focus on structural geology, but he has always had a keen interest in geologic hazards and in getting information to decision-makers and the public. When he became chairman of the Geology Department at Eastern Kentucky University in 1967, he hired me and asked me to develop courses in engineering geology and environmental geology (then in its very early stages). Since EKU did not have an engineering degree, this was an effort to emphasize the importance of geology not only to our majors, but to those students in other fields of study. We actually participated in the first Earth Day in 1970. We tried to educate people to use resources in a responsible way and realize that ignorance of geology and natural geologic hazards could be costly and irresponsible.

I left EKU in 1971 to accept a position with an engineering firm, but in 1978 Haney took over as Director and State Geologist at the Kentucky Geological Survey and asked me to join him in building a water resources program for KGS. Although I began as head of the Water Resources Section, we immediately set out to develop a Geologic Hazards Section at KGS. Despite his continuing effort to convince legislators that geologic hazards were costing the state millions of dollars each year, progress and funding was painfully slow in coming. Haney never got discouraged or backed off, and those who know him know that he never soft-pedaled the issues. Although we didn't realize it at the time, success probably began with the 5.2-magnitude Sharpsburg, Ky., earthquake in 1980. With the added threat of a major earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, we began to work with Dr. Ron Street of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Kentucky to build what is now a 25-station seismic and strong-motion network. The first significant funding came in 1990 with assistance from Rep. Richard Geveden of Wickliffe. Another block of funding in 2000 finally allowed us to hire the professionals we needed. Don Haney took field trips to places like Williamsburg, Ky., to look at landslides, to Frankfort, Ky., to study karst, to all the way out to Hickman in far western Kentucky, but he was equally at home in the field or badgering the legislature for funding.