Alert raised to ‘Code 3’ at giant Louisiana sinkhole: “Water movement in the sinkhole has been observed” — Bubbles increasing

Published: March 22nd, 2013 at 2:12 pm ET
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Title: 11:15 a.m. Advisory from the Office of Conservation
Source: Assumption Parish Police Jury
Date: March 22, 2013 at 12:15p ET

The Office of Conservation, in consultation with Assumption Parish Incident Command, is advising the public that the Oxy 3/sinkhole monitoring alert status has been raised to Code 3 – requiring all work inside and around the sinkhole to cease until further notice. Seismic monitoring has detected elevated subsurface activity in the area around the sinkhole and Oxy 3 area indicative of fluid and gas movement below the sinkhole, and water movement in the sinkhole has been observed, along with increased bubbling along the western side of the sinkhole. The seismic activity is limited to the Oxy 3/sinkhole area, showing no indication of impact to the Oxy 1 area. Monitoring is constantly ongoing in the area and Conservation will advise the public of significant changes in subsurface conditions.

Updated here: Sinkhole monitoring alert status has been lowered back to Code 1

Published: March 22nd, 2013 at 2:12 pm ET
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45 comments to Alert raised to ‘Code 3’ at giant Louisiana sinkhole: “Water movement in the sinkhole has been observed” — Bubbles increasing

  • rainbeaudais rainbeaudais

    The airboats behind me sure haven't stopped. I hear them in my sleep now. When I atually sleep, that is. Gonna be hard to sleep/function without that sound one day. Kinda like getting used to an attic fan.


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    • SwimsWithGators

      Not shaking, but collapsing. Not a quake but erosion of the salt dome by water. As the salt dome is eroded, the sediments leaning against the dome fall over into the space the salt once occupied.

      Remember that the salt dome is an extrusion. In other words, it actually forced itself up through the sediments over centuries.

      Formerly water dry, the boundary now is being fed with water. Oil and gas in the sediments are being displaced by water. Oil and gas float on water and so they both move to the surface up through the sinkhole's water column. This displacement allows more surface water to flow down into the hole causing more erosion of the salt, allowing the sediments to move which show up on the seismic monitors.


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  • Its Curtains

    I think he should have said a rebel without a clue. Maybe he is angry and doesn't understand why she is staying there on harms way and acting so cavalier?


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  • rainbeaudais rainbeaudais

    http://assumptionla.wordpress.com/

    4:00 p.m. Blue Ribbon Commission Named
    March 22, 2013 //

    Members Announced for Blue Ribbon Commission on Bayou Corne Safety

    Draws from local, national and international experts, first meeting planned for early April

    BATON ROUGE – Today, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Stephen Chustz, Commissioner of Conservation Jim Welsh and GOSHEP Director Kevin Davis announced that they have finalized the membership of the Blue Ribbon Commission called for last week by Governor Bobby Jindal to provide science-based recommendations for public safety in the Bayou Corne area. Chustz said 13 members have been selected to serve on the Commission.


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    • timemachine2020 timemachine2020

      Seems to me that you were saying a couple weeks ago how that things were looking up and the trees were coming back and turning green around the sinkhole and all was peachy again in the bayou? You have lost between 6 and 8 acres of those blooming cypress trees in the last week. Thats a scary 1 acre a day average over the last week. That is a MAJOR increase of the subseidence travel rate. Not many acres left between you and lake stinkhole. The ground is extremely unstable and breaking up between the 2 of you. Heaven forbid but there is a definate possibility of a Lake peigneur repeat at some point. Cavaties and voids in salt domes regardless if by mining or cavern development, can and usually result in major sinkhole problems, when introduced to its worst enemy, a nonstop water source. Afterall Lake Peigneur was a GIANT SINKHOLE that just all went down at once. It is 100 percent your right to stay there and go down with the ship if you desire. Why not find a safer rv spot on the bayou a bit north of you where it is sooo much safer? You have the easiest means of relocating of anyone that lives there, yet you insist on staying. I can understand you hesitance up to now but with these latest developments, you should be hitailin it outta there. Best of luck, your gonna need it. Failure to enforce the mandatory evacuation at this point is wreckless disregard by the local authorities and a severe risk to the remaining residents well being and should be reviewed immediately.


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      • Thad

        Lake Peigneur repeat– LOL – TM2020 do you even know just what the event at the lake was, what caused it–No it was not a'GIANT SINKHOLE that just all went down at once." It was the Diamond Crystal salt mine– an operating salt mine with 50 x 80 ft tunnels fir miles.
        Non stop water source– from where – takes 3 bbls of water to dissolve 1 bbls salt– Now there is a one bbls void in the salt with 3 bbls of brine in it–? No– Every time you dissolve 1 bbl of salt you have to move 3 bbls of brine so the next 3 bbls of fresh water can dissolve the next 1 bbl of salt–so not only have to bring water to the salt -brine has to be taken away– where are os going to be put–?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Peigneur


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        • SwimsWithGators

          Where is the water going? It is going into the formerly dry sediment formations. As it does, it displaces the oil and gas in the sediments. Think of the sediments like a huge sponge. That sponge had oil and gas in the sponge holes. Now it has water in many places instead of oil and gas.

          Where does the oil and gas go? It rises to the surface. Oil and gas is being displaced by the aquifer water that DID NOT exist in the sediments before the cavern collapsed and the sinkhole formed. When the cavern collapsed, the sediments that formed the bottom containment of the aquifer collapsed, allowing the aquifer water to flow down into what were formerly water dry sediments. Now those sediments are being saturated with water.

          The brine water that has dissolved the salt is now going even deeper into the earth. It is going into places that once held oil and gas. So there is a flow of water from the aquifer to deep underground. See my comments a few posts below for more info.


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          • Thad

            SWG
            Where do you live because you know very little about marsh land Louisiana. Go to Bayou Corne take a shovel and start digging won't get very deep before hitting water. The bottom of the aquifer is 500 ft ABOVE the salt dome aquifer pressure 15-45 psi –that is not high pressure– and how does the lighter 8.36 ppg fresh water 'sink' through the 10.0 ppg brine 500 ft to reach the salt..
            The water in the sinkhole is brine–that is why they built the berm to keep it in…boom was all that was needed for oil–
            The brine does not enter the formations where the oil and gas are coming from– ask a rough neck or mud engr it would kill the flow problem over


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            • SwimsWithGators

              The *former* bottom of the aquifer was at 500 feet. But since the bottom of the aquifer now has a hole in it, you could say the bottom has dropped out. The bottom is now down to the cavern and past it.

              The water that is eroding the salt dome is brine. And you say the brine has risen all the way from the salt dome to the surface? I doubt that. That would go against what you wrote: That the brine can't rise up into the fresh. However, some brine could be coming up with the oil and gas.

              Do you have a source for the brine water in the surface sinkhole? A simple WQ test link?

              So, what is happening, as I said, is that there is now a column, maybe two columns of water, from the surface all the way down to the collapsed cavern and even past that point.

              The brine is moving into where the gas and oil were. Making more room for the aquifer water which is fresh and eating at the salt.

              The sediments close to the salt were basically water free. Had they contained lots of water the salt dome would have been eating away long ago. Now that the aquifer is reaching the dome it is being eaten away and that is why there is seismic activity. Duh!


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      • rainbeaudais rainbeaudais

        TN2020…

        "Seems to me that you were saying a couple weeks ago how that things were looking up and the trees were coming back and turning green around the sinkhole and all was peachy again in the bayou?"

        Let's not exaggerate,okay?

        I was, and am excited about seeing the trees turning green again, YES,since I have been hearing for 8 months now how all the trees were dead,and in fact, all the trees for MILES were dead.

        I have been trying to tell people that the bald cypress trees LOOK dead in the winter, but were not, and I would get right back that NO, they were dead, period.

        Never said "all was peachy again in the bayou", so if you are going to try to quote me, then please do so accurately. You are one of the main ones that keeps trying to paint this picture that we all should be walking around with gas masks and haz mat suits on,and that every living creature of wildlife, plantlie and marine life is either dead or going to die. That we are walking around, living in in "toxic sludge" type environment. Your favorite phrase, in fact. And I'm telling you once again, that is not how it is.

        The trees turning green again, ESPECIALLY directly around the sinkhole is important. I notice all those comments about how everything is so dead, have now stopped with each new fly over.

        Question for you….have you even listened to the last 2 senate hearings and what Hecox has to say? They EXPECT the sinkhole to keep growing. How many times do they need to say that?


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      • rainbeaudais rainbeaudais

        "It is 100 percent your right to stay there and go down with the ship if you desire. Why not find a safer rv spot on the bayou a bit north of you where it is sooo much safer? You have the easiest means of relocating of anyone that lives there, yet you insist on staying."

        TM2020

        Exactly how do you know what my situation is? My requirements? My ability? What's available, especially "a spot on the bayou a bit north that's sooo much safer?" Safe? Why do you feel you know better about my safety than I do?

        Nothing. You know nothing except what you have seen your buddy say, or he has told you (in y'alls "board meetings") about the fact that I live in a fifth wheel, and you have either drawn your own conclusions from that, are have been spoon fed them. You are wrong on so many levels about so many things.


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  • BigLoner

    Tiny bubbles, in the brine,
    Makes me angry, all the time.

    - Don Ho & Dean Martin


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Some choice..

    ATCHAFALAYA BASINKEEPER v. CHUSTZ

    ATCHAFALAYA BASINKEEPER; Louisiana Environmental Action Network, Plaintiffs–Appellants, v. Stephen CHUSTZ, in his official capacity as Acting Director of the Atchafalaya Basin Program, Defendant–Appellee.

    No. 11–30471.

    – April 25, 2012

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-5th-circuit/1601699.html


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  • SwimsWithGators

    My idea of what's happening. From the report…Quoted:

    ""Seismic monitoring has detected elevated subsurface activity in the area around the sinkhole and Oxy 3 area indicative of fluid and gas movement below the sinkhole, and water movement in the sinkhole has been observed, along with increased bubbling along the western side of the sinkhole.""

    Aquifer water at high pressure is flowing down into the deep underground. There WAS very little water deep underground, otherwise the salt would have eroded. Someone said something about 'formation' water. Well that is a false idea. Where the subsurface activity is taking place WAS water dry, now it has massive amounts of water.

    Where does the water flow? The water displaces gas and oils in the sediments formation. Millions of cubic feet of gas and oil have risen to the surface, right? The water from the aquifer is now flowing into where gas and oil are/were and filling those spaces. Also where it is dissolving the salt dome.

    The water that dissolves the salt becomes briny. That briny water is being pushed lower and lower due to its weight and the fact that there is a column of water 5,000 feet tall on top of it forcing it down and into the oil and gas bearing formations that WERE water dry. Now that the water is filling in the places where the oil and gas and salt were, the sediments and salt are eroding and collapsing.

    With fresh water being constantly introduced to the salt dome, the salt dome will erode…


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    • 16Penny 16Penny

      SwimsWithGators,

      "Someone said something about 'formation' water. Well that is a false idea. "

      Sorry, that is a real thing. Oil scavengers call it produced water. Look at all of the neat chemicals it brings with it.

      http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/prodwaterpaper1.pdf


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      • 16Penny 16Penny

        A good quote from that paper:

        "Lee et al. (2002) report that U.S. wells produce an average of more than 7 bbl of water for each barrel of oil. For crude oil wells nearing the end of their productive lives, water can
        comprise as much as 98% of the material brought to the surface."

        Sounds like there is plenty of water down there to me.


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        • 16Penny 16Penny

          For the lazy readers,

          Page 1

          1.1 What Is Produced Water? In subsurface formations, naturally occurring rocks are generally permeated with fluids
          such as water, oil, or gas (or some combination of these fluids). It is believed that the rock in most oil-bearing formations was completely saturated with water prior to the
          invasion and trapping of petroleum (Amyx et al. 1960). The less dense hydrocarbons migrated to trap locations, displacing some of the water from the formation in becoming hydrocarbon reservoirs. Thus, reservoir rocks normally contain both petroleum hydrocarbons (liquid and gas) and water. Sources of this water may include flow from above or below the hydrocarbon zone, flow from within the hydrocarbon zone, or flow from injected fluids and additives resulting from production activities. This water is frequently referred to as “connate water” or “formation water” and becomes produced water when the reservoir is produced and these fluids are brought to the surface. Produced water is any water that is present in a reservoir with the hydrocarbon resource and is produced to the surface with the crude oil or natural gas."


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          • 16Penny 16Penny

            and

            "When hydrocarbons are produced, they are brought to the surface as a produced fluid mixture. The composition of this produced fluid is dependent on whether crude oil or natural gas is being produced and generally includes a mixture of either liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons, produced water, dissolved or suspended solids, produced solids such as sand or silt, and injected fluids and additives that may have been placed in the formation as a result of exploration and production activities."


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            • 16Penny 16Penny

              And if you think the berm was just due to salinity, think again.

              "2.1.2 Produced Water from Gas Production

              . . . Produced waters from gas production have higher contents of low molecular-weight aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) than those from oil operations; hence they are relatively more toxic than produced waters from oil production. Studies indicate that the produced waters discharged from gas/condensate platforms are about 10 times more toxic than the produced waters discharged from oil platforms (Jacobs et al. 1992)."

              Since (one of) the formation(s) interacting with the collapse zone is methane bearing wouldn't this seem appropriate?


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              • 16Penny 16Penny

                And, knock knock, Who's there?

                NORM!

                Page 9
                "2.2.1.10 Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM)

                NORM originates in geological formations and can be brought to the surface with produced water. The most abundant NORM compounds in produced water are radium- 226 and radium228, which are derived from the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium associated with certain rocks and clays in the hydrocarbon reservoir (Utvik 2003). As the water approaches the surface, temperature changes cause radioactive elements to precipitate. The resulting scales and sludges may accumulate in water separation systems. In the North Sea, where ambient concentrations of Ra-226 are 0.027- 0.04 Bq/L, measured concentrations in produced waters range from 0.23 to 14.7 Bq/L (Utvik 2003). Radium contamination of produced water has generated enough concern that some states have placed additional requirements on National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits that limit the amount of radium that can be discharged. Compounding the NORM concern is that chemical constituents in many produced waters can interfere with conventional analytical methods, and, as a result, radium components can be lost, leading to a false negative result for samples that may contain significant amounts of NORM (Demorest and Wallace 1992)."


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                • SwimsWithGators

                  Lets make this real simple, 16Penny.

                  Had the formations at the place we are discussing had much water, that water would have been eroding the salt dome the thousands of years it existed.

                  Since the salt dome was not eroded, common sense tells us there was little water there. Now there is a lot of water there. There is a column of water from the surface to the edge of the dome and it is eating away at the salt and making for erosion which is causing the seismic activity.


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                  • 16Penny 16Penny

                    "Had the formations at the place we are discussing had much water, that water would have been eroding the salt dome the thousands of years it existed."

                    Nope, the formations trapping the hydrocarbons also trap the "formation water" as it is called before it is produced. I provided a very credible source to beck my understanding of it. Simply read it.


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      • Thad

        o6p
        Formation waters/ produced water you got it. A little more info the waters have a high salinity 80-90,000 ppm Chlorides so if contacting salt would not dissolve as much as fresh water.
        Well production reports not always the best indication of water in the formation–contents in producing sand are stratified gas/oil/ water. E-logs are ran to find water top in sand– production tubing is set above so as to avoid water production as much as possible–


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      • haizedustrium-1234 haizedustrium-1234

        CoE No. 2303 Isobutyl valerate
        https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/sanco_foods/main/index.cfm?event=substance.view&identifier=1171
        CoE No. 2308 2-Isopropyl-5-methylphenyl acetate
        https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/sanco_foods/main/?event=substance.view&identifier=1173
        CoE No. 10523 Benzyl 2-methylbutyrate
        https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/sanco_foods/main/?event=substance.view&identifier=1221
        Amazing how some of those brine and mineral acids with propionic acid in produced water can turn out to be food flavorings. Bon apetit.


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    • 16Penny 16Penny

      SwimsWithGators,

      As somewhat of a peace offering, I provide this link which supports your idea about the brine interacting with deep geological formations, more specifically, this statement:

      "Where does the water flow? The water displaces gas and oils in the sediments formation. Millions of cubic feet of gas and oil have risen to the surface, right? The water from the aquifer is now flowing into where gas and oil are/were and filling those spaces. Also where it is dissolving the salt dome.

      The water that dissolves the salt becomes briny. That briny water is being pushed lower and lower due to its weight and the fact that there is a column of water 5,000 feet tall on top of it forcing it down and into the oil and gas bearing formations. . ."

      I intentionally cut that before you went into the dry formation part. I did research the topic and found some discussion of Hot Dry Rock formations in regards to geothermal practices, but they were about 3 times deeper than the depths related to the cavern blowout. I suspect that if you went down below the seam of salt which connects / once connected the regions salt formations you might find hot dry rock. In just under a month we should have much of the information necessary to answer several of these differences in opinion with the VSP.

      http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/pp1767/


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      • 16Penny 16Penny

        A short outtake from the article:

        "A zone of fracturing within the bedrock (the deformation zone) formed around the rubble chimneys as rock layers sagged toward the mine cavity after the roof collapses. Borehole geophysical surveys have identified three saline-water-bearing fracture zones in the bedrock: at stratigraphic contacts between the Onondaga and Bertie Limestones (O/B-FZ) and the Bertie Limestone and the Camillus Shale (B/C-FZ), and in the Syracuse Formation (Syr-FZ). The only outlets for brine displaced from the mine are through the rubble chimneys, but some of the brine could be diverted laterally into fracture zones in the rocks that lie between the mine and the LCA."

        Different collapse but they identify specifically the ability of fractured / permeable geology to contain saturated brine from dissolution.


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      • Thad

        16 p / SWG

        The pressure of a column of 1.2 SG brine on the leaking formations at +/- 6,000ft is 3,130 psi — for the gas and oil to be able to flow from the formations the pressure within must be greater– With a greater pressure in the formation than the pressure exerted by the brine– the brine can not/ does not enter. When the gas/oil exit their formation there is NOT an empty void as the gas/oil is being 'pushed' by the gas/oil still with the formation-

        The 6,000 ft depth is an estimated depth but is within expectation as it is close to the bottom depth of the cavern.

        The geology of the gulf sedimentary basin is of a different class and type than 'Onondaga and Bertie Limestones, Camillus Shale and the Syracuse Formation.'


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  • SwimsWithGators

    With fresh water being constantly introduced to the salt dome, the salt dome will erode until the fresh water flow is cut off. There may be a point where the surface collapse naturally closes off the aquifer water from going down any more. Before the collapse of the cavern in the salt dome, the aquifer had a bottom containment layer. The sinkhole began when that bottom containment layer was punctured.

    That puncture HAS to be sealed before stabilization of the sinkhole can occur. And it would protect the salt dome from further water erosion and dissolving.

    Containing the aquifer – while not easy – must be done, or the problem will continue.


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  • SwimsWithGators

    All this talk about *formation* waters is garbage. Had there been much formation water in this location it would have eroded the salt long ago.

    There are many different types of formations underground on this earth. Some have trapped water, some have no water and all oil, some have water and oil.

    If there was a lot of water at this location, next to the salt dome IT WOULD HAVE ERODED THE DOME.

    But now there is water via the sinkhole and now the salt dome is eroding. I don't know how to make that any clearer.


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    • 16Penny 16Penny

      If that were true then why didn't the oil and gas come out before? Because it was pinched off from the salt by the very process that formed the dome. The failure of the cavern wall has opened a path for any fluids and any gasses to now escape to the surface. I agree with some of what you are putting forth, especially the action of the hydrocarbons eroding the salt. I think you are off about the formation water. Look at any subterranean project. There is always water. Always, not most of the time. I understand why you don't think it was there but I do not agree that formation water could not exist in a pinched off formation which is no disturbed by the collapse.


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  • SwimsWithGators

    If there was water next to the salt, it would have eroded it. Hydrocarbons do NOT erode salt.

    The only reason the salt dome was there was because there was no water in contact with it.

    Now there is water contacting the salt and it is eroding the dome and the sediments are moving to where the salt WAS.

    The caverns in the dome were made by pumping water into the middle of the dome. Because water erodes salt very easily. Had there been much water down there the dome would have eroded long ago. I don't know how to make that any clearer.


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    • 16Penny 16Penny

      SwimsWithGators,

      "The only reason the salt dome was there was because there was no water in contact with it." Here we agree. What I am trying to show is that the formation water was always present near the salt dome. It is only now i contact with the salt dome because the geology and hydrocarbons that had prevented it from contacting the dome are no longer able to stop the water. The geological traps on that flank are at the bottom of the failed cavern and what used to cause water and hydrocarbons to pool up around the dome is now acting like a funnel to anything lighter than fully saturated brine (SpGrav = 1.3). Anything lighter (Gasses or liquids) in communication through sandy formations AND faults will seek to swap places with the heavier materials.

      As for the ongoing confusion about the volumes of salt and water and brine:

      There has to be a total of 4 volumes initially to have 1 volume of salt and 3 volumes of water.

      Once water is fully saturated, 1 volume of salt and 3 volumes of water become 3.36 (roughly) volumes of brine. That leaves a .64 volume of void which will draw in more of whatever is available. Am I proposing the 3.36 volume of brine just disappears? no, I have never said that. What I think is happening is analogous to the dispersion of large gas bubbles by the collapsed sediments. I think as hydrocarbons and formation waters move through the rubble it mixes and dilutes the salinity of any brine it comes in contact with.


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      • 16Penny 16Penny

        In addition, as haizedustrium-1234 has brought up before, there are many potentials for chemical reactions in this sinkhole soup. Sometimes these reactions can vary in volume from start to finish. I haven't dug into that worm bed yet, I have other things in my life that require some of my time.

        Beyond the chemistry, there are the physical properties of the compounds. Different pressures and temperatures can make some of these compounds behave very peculiarly (if that's a word). For instance, gases at high pressures have low volumes, like near the bottom of the collapse zone. As the gasses travel up through the collapse zone or any other path they may come across, they increase in volume as the pressure lessens. This would cause larger disturbances and may be the action most responsible for disturbing the collapse zone and any soil plugs that may slough into the upper throat.


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  • irhologram

    What about the elephant flatulence in the room? Interesting discussion, SWG and 16P…but IMO both your theories about the mechanism for collapse ignore the elephant in the room of Assumption Parish and many surrounding parishes…methane/gas cocktail/oil brew that's bubbling, gurgling and gushing miles beyond the sinkhole…that is unarguably linked to causal forces preceding the appearance of sinkholes, like flatulance from the elephant we'd rather ignore. This wild mega-beast is UBIQUITOUS throughout the area…and logically… Please tell me logically: WHY is this sinkhole considered a singularity…why would the only expected appearance of other sinkholes be that this ONE sinkhole may collapse and knock the adjacent columns over like dominoes? Discussions of the "mechanism" for collapse some months back included a bugared well drilled in 2011 that was sealed…but then…Recent discussions say oil was NEVER drilled close enough to this area… In any case, drilling, except for relief wells, was put to bed as the cause. As you say 16P, SOMETHING changed the status quo. Maybe the Gulf coastal margin shell-fracture/fault/fissures expanded due to EQ swarms by the 1000s beginning last Spring/Summer… Were they "tectonics" from extinct volcanism in fitful sleep? Expanding earth sphalling fissures? A gassy BP elephant HERD? IMO, any theory that ignores PERVASIVE area-wide geo-events is…oh, no! she wont say it! Hot air from an elephant. (My bad. Lol)


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    • 16Penny 16Penny

      I think if you look back through my posts you will see I have been aware to the possibility of these being connected and as time allows I am sifting through studies to find enough evidence to show that this is potentially connected. The only ways to prove or disprove rather would be through testing the hypothesis once it is formed.


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  • timemachine2020 timemachine2020

    Big jolt in Bayou Corne half an hour ago and now somw very strange movements showing up, liquification mabey?

    http://folkworm.ceri.memphis.edu/heli_temp/LA14_HHZ_YC_–.2013041312.gif


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