Huge sinkhole in Texas size of four football fields

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by WoodysGirl, May 8, 2008.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

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    Massive sinkhole continues to grow near Daisetta

    Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

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    DAISETTA — The nervous vigil at a huge sinkhole that mysteriously opened in this Liberty County town on Wednesday -- and grew rapidly throughout the day -- is continuing early today as county officials hand off oversight of the emergency to the Texas Railroad Commission.

    The sinkhole, which appeared near the center of Daisetta on Wednesday morning and grew to four football fields in diameter and 200 feet deep by nightfall, did not grow severely during the night and no evacuations have yet been ordered, a Liberty County sheriff's official said today.

    Still, authorities are preparing to act quickly if the sinkhole should resume its stunning expansion from Wednesday, when it swallowed trees, telephone poles, storage tanks, oil field equipment, a tractor and the cab of an 18-wheeler.

    With the arrival of daylight, said sheriff's Cpl. Hugh Bishop, authorities can tell the sinkhole grew somewhat during the night, but at a slower rate. No injuries have been reported.

    Bishop estimated the sinkhole's size now at 600 yards wide and 200 feet deep.

    "There are signs it's slowing down, but it's a nature thing. We don't know what to expect," he said.

    Bishop also said officials with the Railroad Commission and a geologist are on site to determine the cause of the sinkhole. One possibility is that it resulted from the collapse of one of the many salt domes in this region.

    The good news, Bishop said, is that the crater is not growing eastward toward FM 770, the main road through Daisetta. It seems to be expanding toward the southwest and north, he said.

    The sinkhole is near the intersection of FM 770 and FM 834 on the north side of town.

    The next likely victim if it continues growing appears to be a maintenance shed on the Deloach Vacuum Disposal Co. property.

    "The building is on the edge," Bishop said.

    The sinkhole announced itself about 10 a.m. Wednesday as ground that had been "flat as a pancake" began to collapse, said Tom Branch, the county's emergency management coordinator.

    Sometimes as much as 20 feet an hour would vanish into the growing pit.

    Lester Edwards, Liberty County's hazardous materials coordinator, said nobody knows how big the hole may get or when it will stop growing. He said all authorities can do is monitor the pit and keep people from danger.

    By nightfall, the hole was located on the property belonging to the Deloach Vacuum Disposal Co., but only a block from the town's fire station and Hull-Daisetta High School.

    Officials for Deloach, a saltwater disposal company, could not be reached for comment.

    In 1981 a smaller sinkhole developed on the opposite side of town. That one appeared overnight and grew to 250 feet wide and 30 feet deep. It expanded from a much smaller sinkhole that appeared in 1969 and was on Gulf Oil Corp. property near a salt water disposal well.

    The new sinkhole formed near another salt water disposal well owned by Deloach.

    Daisetta sits above a salt dome. Salt water separated from crude oil taken from production wells is often disposed of in wells in the dome.

    Mary McCann, whose husband, Harold, was the town's mayor when the last sinkhole formed, lives near the new one.

    She said Deloach workers were injecting salt water into the well "when the ground started separating and everybody ran like devils." She said the workers ran to FM 770 and stood watching the phenomenon.

    As to what's causing it, "I wish the heck I knew," McCann said, but she said she suspects the salt water well was at fault.

    "I think we're in jeopardy. This property is our life's savings. We're old people," said McCann, who is 80.

    Power precautions
    Entergy, the power company, was called to the scene early Wednesday to cut electric lines to Deloach as the hole sucked down utility poles. The move was made to prevent power from being cut off in the town of 1,200.

    Sunoco, a leading manufacturer and marketer of petroleum and petrochemical products, secured two 6-inch crude oil pipelines near the sinkhole that were starting to leak, Edwards said.

    Ramona Nye, spokeswoman for the Texas Railroad Commission, said the owners of two crude-oil gathering pipe systems and one natural-gas gathering system in the area were warned to keep close watch for potential damage. She said none had experienced any damage so far.

    Railroad Commission investigators were monitoring the site and checking pipelines in the vicinity while Texas Natural Resources and Conservation officials were monitoring air and water quality. No pollutants had been detected.

    A mile south of the site, an old abandoned oil well began gushing massive amounts of salt water Wednesday. Nye said, "So far we don't think it's related."

    May take weeks to stabilize
    When spectators stood on the edge of the sinkhole they didn't have to wait long to see something happen. The hole was surrounded by giant growing cracks that extended several hundred yards in concentric circles.

    Without warning, dark, oily water in the bottom of the hole began to churn and whirl and then chunks of earth fell from the walls. Equipment, tanks and sheds slid with the dirt and disappeared into the hole.

    Sometimes water poured from a nearby lake into the growing hole.

    Geoffrey Paine, a geologist and geophysicist with the University of Texas, said sinkholes are rare and generally form in areas where underground salt or limestone formations are dissolved by water and allow the surface to collapse.

    "It's not something easily predicted, but we do know where the salt domes are," he said. He said water can leak into the formation through drill holes, disposal wells, oil production wells or water wells.

    "Sometimes areas that have been drilled over the years can allow water to dissolve the salt to create voids that collapse from the materials above it," he said.

    It often takes up to two weeks for the hole to stabilize, Paine said.

    Oil has been produced in the area since 1918, according to the Handbook of Texas. Although most of the old wells have long since been abandoned, some oil and gas is still produced.

    The 1981 sinkhole became a lake, McCann said. "It sealed itself," she said.

    The current mayor, Lynn Wells, filled most of the earlier hole with dirt and built a house on it. He said he's not seen any problems on his property since the new sinkhole began forming about 500 yards away.

    Investigators will continue to monitor the situation and try to determine whether any regulations have been violated, Nye said.

    "We don't know what's going to happen," Wells said. "We just have to monitor things and make sure everybody is safe."

    Chronicle reporters Richard Stewart and Eric Hanson contributed to this report.
  2. Duane

    Duane Well-Known Member

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    Picture of the sinkhole.

  3. Brandon

    Brandon Benched

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    Whoa! Holy _____.
  4. Hostile

    Hostile The Duke

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    Judas Priest!
  5. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    I saw the pics of that yesterday on cable news and went :eek:

    Given the history of the area, I'd move.
  6. Heisenberg

    Heisenberg That gum you like.

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    Holy moly. That's insane! :eek:
  7. the kid 05

    the kid 05 Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds

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    what causes a sinkhole?
  8. tomson75

    tomson75 Brain Dead Shill

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    I'd guess it's caused by tunnels or caves collapsing, or perhaps erosion of earth by underground water sources...but I'm no expert.

    Maybe in some cases the removal of petroleum/oil deposits?
  9. SPHawk

    SPHawk Member

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    I've seen pictures of a drilling rig that was drilling over a salt dome before. Once that dome started collapsing the only thing you could see of the rig was the very tip of it out of the ground.
  10. DallasCowpoke

    DallasCowpoke Fierce Allegiance

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  11. Cowboysfan22

    Cowboysfan22 Member

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    Holy moly that is one big sink hole!:eek:
  12. kristie

    kristie Well-Known Member

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  13. DallasFanSince86

    DallasFanSince86 Pessimism Sucks

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    :eek: I would be looking for a new place to live, pronto, if I lived near there
  14. peplaw06

    peplaw06 That Guy

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    Isaac Newton developed the Theory of Gravity.

    Gravity causes sinking.

    Isaac Newton causes sinkholes.
  15. the kid 05

    the kid 05 Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds

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  16. kristie

    kristie Well-Known Member

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    he did? :lmao:
  17. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl U.N.I.T.Y Staff Member

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    May 16, 2008, 8:34PM
    Daisetta sinkhole becomes private pool for 7-foot gator


    It's been difficult to get a clear photo of the alligator, as the creature tends to show its snout and then to undulate through the water, with its muscular tail and back forming two humps before vanishing beneath the surface as quickly as it appeared.
    Texas Railroad Commission

    Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

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    DAISETTA _ Workers standing on the rim of a giant sinkhole that formed last week in this Liberty County town gasp and point as the water inside the cavity starts to ripple.

    The first thing visible is a long snout. Then the creature begins to undulate through the water, with its muscular tail and back forming two humps, before vanishing beneath the surface as quickly as it appeared.

    Sightings of a 7-foot alligator, although rare, have been reported since shortly after May 8 when the ground collapsed a block from the high school and fire station.

    Residents believe the reptile was washed into the 600-foot-diameter crater with water from the swamps that surround the town. Once plunging more than 260 feet deep, the sinkhole is starting to turn into a lake.

    Ground water is seeping into the hole from the bottom while marsh water has gushed from the top. Authorities estimate the lake is at least 75 feet deep and is still rising. The exposed walls of the sinkhole are about 30 feet high.

    Workers dismantling storage tanks teetering on the sinkhole's rim had initially mocked reported sightings of an alligator. They had spent hours on the rim and seen nothing — until about noon on Friday.

    Now they are believers. An alligator is indeed inhabiting this spot, using the sinkhole for its own private swimming pool. A Texas Railroad Commission employee snapped photographs for proof.

    "He must love oil," one worker remarked.

    Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden, Danny Diaz, said the patch of gooey crude floating on the east side of the crater might irritate the alligator's skin, but he is using the water on the other side.

    "It's not really safe for anyone to climb down into that hole now to get anything out," said Diaz, pointing to stress cracks in the ground that encircle the hole. "The sinkhole could start growing again, especially if we get a saturating rain."

    The commission is still studying what may have caused the collapse and if other underground voids might cave-in later. As a precaution, the public is being barred from the site and a portion of FM 770 that passes by it.

    But some have not been able to resist slipping past the orange barriers to sneak a peek.

    "I've been over there every day and only seen the alligator once," said Connie Rerich, 19, who works as a volunteer firefighter and is a clerk at the town's grocery store. She said the reptile was floating on top of the water and then dropped below the surface like he was riding an elevator.

    She wasn't too surprised, because she said many alligators populate the bog that surrounds the old oil field town.

    Harry Coplin, 74, doesn't believe anyone is worried about the alligator taking up residence.

    "Some of the workers at a propane gas plant that shut down here used to feed their leftover sandwiches to 9-footer that lived right back in there," he said.
  18. StylisticS

    StylisticS Well-Known Member

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    I think Texas as well as Florida are home to a lot of limestone which is known for sinkholes. Florida has these all the time. I could be wrong though.
  19. jimmy40

    jimmy40 Well-Known Member

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    Global warming,


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