Publication Date

Fall 2021

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jason Polk (Director), Jun Yan, Pat Kambesis, Matt Powell

Degree Program

Department of Earth, Environmental, and Atmospheric Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Environmental hazards in karst regions are damaging and often go unnoticed until an issue has escalated to a point of affecting life or property. The field of emergency and environmental contamination response lacks planning or preparedness focused on remediating groundwater contamination in karst systems. A lack of preplanning before an incident can lead to confusion, delayed response, and the inability to remediate the contaminant. Due to the rapid movement of contaminants through urban karst groundwater aquifers, an efficient response plan that leverages localized data in a GIS should be developed and maintained in order to adequately respond. The objective of this study was to develop an adaptive response to urban contamination in karst aquifer systems framework that includes data-driven preparedness and planning, a response plan template, and example mock drills for use by communities and emergency responders to assist in the response to a contamination event. Using the City of Bowling Green, Kentucky as a case study, where karst contamination is historically prevalent, surveys and semi-structured interviews were conducted, along with participant workshop analysis, to inform the framework’s development and integration of GIS into the emergency response planning for urban karst groundwater hazardous contamination events. Successful validation of the framework proved its effectiveness and applicability for future use during contamination events in urban karst settings.


Environmental Sciences | Geographic Information Sciences | Hydrology