Operation Corvette Plus Team Meets to Review Sinkhole Findings, Discuss Skydome Plans
Tuesday, team members involved with the National Corvette Museum’s
sinkhole recovery and remediation met to discuss the future of the
Skydome and construction plan moving forward. Presentations were made
of all of the findings, from drillings, to microgravity readings, and
the WKU cave and karst team’s exploration into the hole.
Dr. Jason Polk with WKU
shared that the void discovered beneath the Skydome extended in two
directions– one leading from the Skydome towards the Museum’s truck
parking lot, and the other leading from the Skydome towards the pond.
Both cave areas start approximately 50 feet underground. According to
Dr. Polk, “You don’t typically have sinkholes without caves or voids of
some type below them, so this finding was not surprising.” He also
indicated that in our area of Kentucky we drive through and around
sinkholes and caves every day, with some types of sinkholes even being
miles wide. There are dozens of known, mapped caves in the Bowling
Green city limits, and over 200 documented caves in Warren County.
Dr. Polk stated that they
found mineral deposits which are indicative of dry conditions in the
northern extension of the cave. This information means that this
portion of our cave is likely thousands of years old and has been there
since long before the Museum was constructed. The cave also probably
hasn’t had flowing water in a very long time.
The team reviewed the
construction documentation from the original building and Skydome.
Prior to construction of the building a geo-technical test was completed
in accordance with normal standards. They found nothing to indicate
any problems. “Normally if there is enough rock, it doesn’t matter what
is below it,” said Danny Daniel of Scott, Murphy & Daniel
Construction. Daniel also indicated that rebar was not required in the
concrete flooring of the Skydome. “It’s no different than the floor of
your garage at home. Rebar was not needed to support the weight of the
cars in the Skydome,” he added. [EDITORS NOTE: SMD Construction did not build the original portion of the Museum]
The team thinks that our
sinkhole was caused by the collapse of a portion of a cave roof,
although they are still compiling data. Several things could have caused
this, including the extra weight from clay soils above the roof
becoming saturated from heavy rain. The team stressed that there is no
reason for anyone to be any more concerned for safety here than any
other area prone to significant karst development and sinkhole collapse,
and it is important to note that much of Bowling Green/Warren County is
located in just such an area.
Dr. Polk and Dr. Leslie
North, also with WKU Center for Cave and Karst Studies, will be
conducting a presentation on Saturday, April 26 at 3:15pm CT on the
sinkhole collapse and how it happened. The presentation will be in the
Museum's Conference Center.
Moving forward the team is
exploring ways to rebuild the Skydome floor. One such plan includes
drilling with micro piles then adding beams to ensure the Skydome floor
is fully secure. The Museum is also exploring various ideas, which
would in some way preserve a portion of the sinkhole, helping to tell
the story of what is now Museum and Corvette history. “We will continue
to explore these ideas as the process has not moved along far enough to
know if keeping a portion of the hole is feasible or not,” said Wendell
Strode, Executive Director of the Museum. “The interest in our
sinkhole and the rescued Corvettes has been more than expected, and our
attendance for March was up 56% over March of last year,” Strode added.
“Our special display focusing on this event is now open in our Exhibit
Hall. Current plans are to keep the cars on display as they are so that
guests through the summer and especially the thousands attending our
20th Anniversary Celebration will have a chance to see the cars and
witness the sinkhole for themselves.”
On Thursday the Museum
received a donation of a 40th Anniversary “Ruby Red” Corvette. Lynda
Patterson of Louisville, Kentucky donated her car in response to the
news of the sinkhole swallowing another “Ruby.” The complete release on
Ms. Patterson’s car donation is available online here.
Representatives from GM will
be meeting with the NCM next month to inspect each of the Great 8 and
determine which ones are appropriate to be restored. The Corvettes that
are not restored will be kept on permanent display as part of
preserving and telling the story of the February 12th Sinkhole Collapse.
Links to photos, videos and information related to the sinkhole are available on the Museum's website at www.corvettemuseum.org. For the latest updates visit the Museum’s Facebook Fan page at www.facebook.com/corvettemuseum.