Texas Town Slowly Consumed By Sink Hole- Could It Happen Elsewhere?
Less than a thousand people live in Daisetta, Texas. It's really in the middle of nowhere, about an hour to either Beaumont or Houston in either direction. As small and remote as it is, it got even smaller, as even more of the town was consumed by a sinkhole that has previously laid dormant for fifteen years.
Back in the spring of 2008, Daisetta made national news when, suddenly, a massive sinkhole opened up and over the course of two days swallowed up land 900 feet across (about 2 and a half football fields). The hole it left was 260 feet deep. The sinkhole, filled with water, eventually became a fishing hole and a home for alligators.
The sinkhole was caused by a void left by the combination of oil and gas producers using the salt dome that Daisetta sits on as a way to dispose of waste underground, and that salt dissolving, like salt does, when flooded. Daisetta was drenched during Hurricane Ike. Experts are trying to determine what caused the latest collapse. The sinkhole has recently grown, "by several acres" according to NPR.
Exacerbating the problem was that there were storage tanks of potentially hazardous substances left behind by those oil and gas producers that could have fallen into the sinkhole.
As of yesterday, those materials were removed, and the situation has de-escalated to a "monitoring and measuring" mission, as the sinkhole seems to be stable...for now.
Of course, residents of Daisetta were shaken, made to fear that they could have been forced to evacuate or that their homes, property, and livelihood may have literally been swallowed up by the earth.
So the next question is- could this happen elsewhere in Texas? The answer is, probably. According to this map there are salt domes used as waste disposal all over West and East Texas. The Gulf Coast Basin, Dalhart Basin, Palo Duro Basin, Midland Basin, and more all have salt domes of varying thicknesses that are being used as waste disposal cavities. Of course, the East Coast is more likely to be hit with flooding because of hurricanes.
Here's hoping the salt holds.
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