Scientists from the Southern Methodist University (SMU) of the city of Dallas maintain their theory that oil extraction operations in the city of Wink (Texas, USA), cause subsidence and movement of the land and may lead to an environmental catastrophe in Texas. The study was recently published on March 16th in the journal Scientific Reports.
Two large sinkholes that appeared in 1980 and 2002 near the city of Wink, southwest of the state of Texas, could sink the land surrounding them completely in the near future, which has triggered alarm signals among experts.
According to the geophysicists of the SMU, this is just one of the symptoms of the worrying situation in the region caused by oil activity and the direct effect this practice has had on the rocks below the surface of the region.
The region is increasingly unstable
The surroundings of both sinkholes have become increasingly unstable and scientists warn that “a collapse could be catastrophic”, with the possibility of new holes being formed.
In addition, as time goes by, the holes, now of 110 and 270 meters deep, could be deepening even more.
“The earth movement we are seeing is not normal. Soil does not usually do this without a cause,” explains Zhong Lu, a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at SMU and co-author of the study, who also added that an environmental catastrophe may happen in Texas.
Texas has been pierced significantly by the massive oil extraction operations in its history
The conclusion of the scientists was possible thanks to the analysis of the radar images of the region, taken between November 2014 and April 2017.
The images show how the groundwater has enlarged the two holes, evidencing the danger that looms over four counties where there has been a large hydrocarbon production activity.
“This region of Texas has been perforated significantly with oil wells and injection wells since the 1940s, and our findings associate that activity with the movement of the soil,” Lu says.
The geologist says that only part of the region has been analyzed, although he is convinced that the same problems are repeated in nearby areas. In this sense, the experts advise taking measures to prevent an environmental catastrophe in Texas due to massive oil extraction operations.