It began with bubbles. Bubbles of gas throughout the bayou. Nothing to get hysterical about. But it kept getting worse.
So residents of Bayou Corne, Louisiana, turned to state regulators, who in the summer of 2012 determined that it wasn't naturally occurring swamp gas, according to Mother Jones. And the U.S. Geological Survey also found that there was increased seismic activity.
What could it be? With bubbling getting worse, the suggestion was floated that it could be the beginnings of a sinkhole, perhaps caused by the mining of a salt dome beneath the town. The company in charge of the mining, Texas Brine, told state officials a sinkhole was highly unlikely.
Then, on August 3, 2012, crude oil began gushing out of a gaping pit nearby. That afternoon, governor Bobby Jindal ordered residents of the small town to evacuate.
Texas Brine drilled a relief well, only to find that the wall of the salt dome, which they were mining, had collapsed. "The breach allowed sediment to pour into the cavern, creating a seam through which oil and explosive gases were forced up to the surface," Mother Jones noted. It was previously thought that it was impossible for salt domes to collapse from the side in this manner, illustrating a lack of knowledge about the geology of these formations and the effects of mining them.
Today, the sinkhole in Bayou Corne covers 24 acres and is 750 feet deep—and keeps growing, according to news reports. Many of the town's residents have evacuated, while some have defied the order and remained. Earlier this month, the state of Louisiana sued Texas Brine LLC for environmental damages, according to the Times-Picayune.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc