Hollow Earth: A Permian Basin Hole Story
June 14, 2016
Strange Sounds (Edited)
But new satellite images suggest the two existing holes are expanding, and new ones are forming as nearby subsidence occurs at an alarming rate.
Residents of Wink and neighboring Kermit have grown accustomed to the two giant sinkholes that sit between their small West Texas towns.
Image: But now radar images taken of the sinkholes by an orbiting space satellite reveal big changes may be on the horizon.
Measurements from satellite radar images of two giant West Texas sinkholes (dark black areas) shows the ground around them is sinking, including indications a potential new sinkhole is developing. The rates of east-west deformation of the ground (cm/year) are indicated in blue (eastward) and red (westward). (Jin-woo Kim, SMU)
A new study by geophysicists at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, finds the massive sinkholes are unstable, with the ground around them subsiding, suggesting the holes could pose a bigger hazard sometime in the future.
The two sinkholes — about a mile apart — appear to be expanding. Additionally, areas around the existing sinkholes are unstable, with large areas of subsidence detected via satellite radar remote sensing.
That leaves the possibility that new sinkholes, or one giant sinkhole may form. This is similar to Arizona where giant cracks mysteriously appear deep in the ground.
This area is heavily populated with oil and gas production equipment and installations, hazardous liquid pipelines, as well as two communities.
Image: Wink Sink 1, formed on June 3, 1980, measured 110-m across and 34-m deep at the time of collapse. On aerial photographs taken in 2004, it has an approximately circular outline that is 94- to 117-m across and is elongated to the northeast-southwest. University of Texas
The intrusion of freshwater to underground can dissolve the interbedded salt layers and accelerate the sinkhole collapse.
Image: Wink Sink 2 formed 1.6 km south of Wink Sink 1 on May 21, 2002. This sinkhole has expanded from its original surface width of 137 m to an oval shape with widths ranging from 185 to 250 m. The cause of collapse at Wink Sink 2 has not been determined. University of Texas
A collapse could be catastrophic.