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Assumption Parish sinkhole shows seismic activity that often triggers a 'burp'

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Once again, the toxic Assumption Parish, Bayou Corne sinkhole, is showing increased seismic activity, the kind that usually triggers a "burp." Minor earthquakes happening around the sinkhole are bringing with them fears of an explosion.

Based on past performance at the Bayou Corne sinkhole, the routine usually follows this pattern::

  • First seismic activity is reported.
  • Next the sinkhole burps methane gas bubbles
  • Then debris and an oily substance float to the surface
  • Lastly, a “slough-in” occurs, where trees and land on the edge of the sinkhole slide into it.

The enormous and growing, Bayou Corne sinkhole has been registering increased seismic activity. Texas Brine has reportedly detected an increase in seismic activity on its instrumentation in the last few weeks, including minor earth tremors. Because of that increased activity, which typically precipitates a “burp” that results in more land being swallowed, work at the site is at a standstill.

Ongoing work at the site involves efforts to contain slurry and release dangerous methane gas from the aquifer. Recent studies show a good deal more methane gas than the initial estimate of 45 million cubic feet has leaked into a nearby aquifer. The fear is the highly combustible methane gas could collect in a crevice or enclosed space and ignite.

Additionally, a few weeks ago, WAFB in Baton Rouge reported that a “second crack” had been discovered in one of the numerous stabilizing berms installed around the sinkhole. WWL-TV in New Orleans, received pictures of the containment berm cracks that formed over a period of a few days, and in just a few days, one crack became five.

A new study by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, reports the Earth's surface actually slid sideways by as much as 10 inches (26 cm) before collapsing into the still-growing toxic Bayou Corne sinkhole. According to Cathleen Jones, a radar scientist at JPL, this is unusual.

Jones warns, "Usually at a sinkhole, we expect to see vertical movement at the surface, some sort of subsidence. This horizontal motion is actually a new indicator people should be aware of."

When the Assumption Parish sinkhole opened in 2012, it was roughly 1/24 of its current size, which is 25 to 26 acres and about 200 feet deep. Unfortunately, the sinkhole continues to grow, moving in a southwest direction . . . toward Texas. .

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