These Monstrous Texas Sinkholes Are Getting Bigger, And Here’s Why We Should Be Worried
Everything is bigger in Texas - we know that. The food, the trucks, the pride...you get the idea. But we do have a concern (or two) out in West Texas that we really shouldn't be that proud of.
They're called the Wink Sinks - two monstrous sinkholes out in Winkler County. For officials out in West Texas, this isn't anything new. In fact, the sinkholes first made an appearance in 1980. They've now grown so large, that they could possibly unite and cause "catastrophic" damage.
That's not something I want to see. Ever.
According to Atlas Obscura, decades of drilling for oil and gas in Winkler County, especially during the peak years between 1926 and 1964, have resulted in an extremely unstable landscape.
Fast forward to 1980, a small, bubbly hole grew to over 120 yards wide and 110 feet deep in 24 hours. Today, Wink Sink No. 1, near the Hendricks oil well 10-A, measures over 117 meters across. To make matters worse, Wink Sink No. 2, near Gulf WS-8 supply well, opened 22 years later in 2002 and now measures 361 feet across - the length of a football field.
Researchers with Southern Methodist University say that the areas surrounding the sinkholes are becoming more and more unstable, and effectively closing the 1-mile gap between the two. When taking into account satellite imagery and research, scientists say that given the right amount of instability, the holes will connect. It's just uncertain when that will be.
Jin-Woo Kim research scientist, in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences at SMU, described the findings in the scientific journal Remote Sensing, in the article “Ongoing deformation of sinkholes in Wink, Texas, observed by time-series Sentinel-1A SAR Interferometry.”
“This area is heavily populated with oil and gas production equipment and installations, hazardous liquid pipelines, as well as two communities. The intrusion of freshwater to underground can dissolve the interbedded salt layers and accelerate the sinkhole collapse,” said Kim. “A collapse could be catastrophic. Following our study, we are collecting more high-resolution satellite data over the sinkholes and neighboring regions to monitor further development and collapse.”
“I would be very concerned,” his partner Zhong Lu, a professor, said in a research interview.
If you take a drive out west, officials have fenced off the two sinkholes, as they're located close to the towns of Wink (population 940) and Kermit (population: 6,000). This hasn't stopped curious Texans from making the trip. Fair warning - if caught in the vicinity of the sinkholes, you could be arrested for trespassing.
Take a look at this incredible drone footage of Wink Sink #1. It's a breathtaking sight, but the sense of danger lurking below, really is a Texas-sized reason for concern.
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