Wink Sinkhole - Wink, Texas
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member txoilgas
N 31° 47.439 W 103° 08.208
13R E 676401 N 3518742
Quick Description: Brought here by the Texas County Challenge. Looking around you wonder if this sinkhole has really stopped.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 10/26/2009 2:20:48 AM
Waymark Code: WM7H46
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member the federation
Views: 13

Long Description:
THE WINK SINK
WRITTEN BY BILL J. BECKHAM.
TRANSCRIBED OUT OF THE WINKLER COUNTY HISTORY BOOK
PUBLISHED IN 1984 USED WITH PERMISSION OF BILL J. BECKHAM & THE WINKLER CO. HISTORICAL SOCIETY

A MAMMOTH CRATER—LATER DUBBED THE WINKLER COUNTY CRATER, THE WINK SINK OR THE KERMIT CRATER DEPENDING ON WHAT PART OF WINKLER COUNTY ONE HAILED FROM – APPEARED ON THE MORNING OF JUNE 3, 1980, APPROXIMATELY FIVE MILES SOUTHWEST OF KERMIT JUST SOUTH OF TEXAS HIGHWAY 115.

“THE WATER WAS BUBBLING AND TWISTING DOWN THERE WITH THE DIRT AS IT FELL IN” DECLARED JUAN GARCIA, THE FIRST PERSON TO VIEW THE CRATER.

GARCIA, AN EMPLOYEE OF HARVARD CONSTRUCTION CO. IN KERMIT, WAS WORKING ON A CONTRACT FOR GULF OIL CORPORATION TO CHECK LEAKS IN A 24 INCH PIPELINE IN THE AREA.

“WE WERE ABOUT 50 FEET AWAY WHEN WATER SPLASHED UP, AND WE SAW IT,” GARCIA EXPLAINED. “I GOT UP TO THE EDGE OF IT AND LOOKED OVER, THEN RAN AND CALLED MY BOSS.”

GARCIA ESTIMATED THE SINKHOLE TO BE 20 FEET WIDE AND 20 FEET LONG WHEN HE DISCOVERED IT AT 9:30 AM. ON THAT SUMMER DAY IN 1980. HE ALSO GUESSED IT WAS ABOUT 40 FEET DOWN TO THE WATER.

“IT MUST HAVE STARTED THAT MORNING AS FAST AS IT WAS FALLING. IT JUST GREW AND GREW RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.” GARCIA RECALLED, “I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK.”

WITHIN TWO HOURS THE SINKHOLE HAD GROWN TO APPROXIMATELY 100 FEET WIDE AND 120 FEET LONG. BY THIS TIME, IT HAD SWALLOWED A MAJOR PORTION OF THE 24-INCH PIPELINE GARCIA HAD BEEN SENT TO CHECK FOR LEAKS.

BY NOON THAT SAME DAY, IT HAD GROWN TO EVEN MORE. ESTIMATED SIZE AT THAT TIME WAS 200 FEET IN DIAMETER, AND IT WAS FILLING WITH WATER. BY LATE AFTERNOON THE DIAMETER HAD INCREASED TO 300 FEET.

RAPID EXPANSION OF THE OBLONG CAVITY HAD CEASED BY THE NEXT MORNING, WHEN ITS LONGEST DIMENSION, WHICH RAN FROM EAST TO WEST WAS ABOUT 360 FEET.

THE SUDDEN FORMATION OF THE SINKHOLE ATTRACTED WIDESPREAD PUBLIC ATTENTION THROUGH BOTH NATIONAL AND LOCAL NEWSMEDIA. IN THE DAYS FOLLOWING THE APPEARANCE OF THE SINKHOLE, THERE WAS MUCH SPECUALTION REGARDING ITS DEVELOPMENT AND THE POSSIBLILTY THAT ADDITIONAL SINKHOLES MIGHT OCCUR.

IN AN OFFICIIAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC GEOLOGY REPORT FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN ENTITLED: “FORMATION OF THE WINK SINK, A SALT DISSOLUTION AND COLLAPSE FEATURE, WINKLER COUNTY, TEXAS”, GEOLOGISTS ROBERT W. GAUMGARDNER, JR., ANN D. HOADLEY AND ARTHUR G. GOLDSTEIN SAID:

“THE WINK SINK FORMED 2.5 MILES NORTHEAST OF WINK, SOUTHWESTERN WINKLER COUNTY ON JUNE 3, 1980. WITHIN 24 HOURS IT HAD EXPANDED TO A WIDTH OF 360 FEET. ON JUNE 5, 1980, MAXIMUM DEPTH OF THE SINKHOLE WAS 110 FEET AND VOLUME ABOUT 5.6 MILLION. BETWEEN JUNE 3 AND JUNE 6, 1980, A LARGE AREA BORDERING THE SOUTH RIM OF THE SINK SUBSIDED ABOUT 10 FEET RELATIVE TO THE NORTH SIDE. FURTHER SUBSIDENCE OF 1,456 FEET OCCURRED ALONG THE SOUTHERN RIM BETWEEN JULY 19 AND DECEMBER 12, 1980.

“A PROBABLE PRECURSOR OF THE SINKHOLE WAS A SOLUTION CAVITY THAT MIGRATED UPWARD BY SUCCESSIVE ROOF FAILURES, THEREBY PRODUCING A COLLAPSE CHIMNEY FILLED WITH BRECCIATED ROCK. DISSOLUTION OF SALT IN THE PERMIAN SALADO FORMATION IS INFERRED TO HAVE PRODUCED THE SOLUTION CAVITY. DEPTH OF THE SALADO RANGES FROM 1,300 TO 2,200 FEET. DATA ON THE SIZE AND INITIAL DEPTH OF THE SOLUTION CAVITY ARE UNAVAILABLE.

THE SALADO FORMATION IN THE REGION CONTAINS SEVERAL DISSOLUTION ZONES. OCCURRENCE OF DISSOLUTION IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SALADO EVAPORITE SEQUENCE MAY HAVE RESULTED FROM GROUNDWATER FLOW ALONG FRACTURED ANHYDRITE INTERBEDS. WATER MAY HAVE COME IN CONTACT WITH SALT BY DOWNWARD MOVEMENT FROM OVERLYING AQUIFERS OR BY UPWARD MOVEMENT FROM UNDERLYING AQUIFERS UNDER ARTIESIAN PRESSURE.

“THE WINK SINK LIES DIRECTLY ABOVE THE PERMIAN CAPITAN REEF, WHICH CONTAINS WATER THAT IS UNSATURATED WITH RESPECT TO SODIUM CHLORIDE. HYDRAULIC HEAD OF WATER FROM THE REEF IS HIGHER IN EVELATION OF THE SALADO FORMATION BUT LOWER THAN THE HEAD IN THE TRIASSIC SANTA ROSA FORMATION, A NEAR SURFACE FRESH-WATER AQUIFER. FRACTURE OR CAVERNOUSE PERMEABILITY OCCURS ABOVE, WITHIN, AND BELOW THE SALADO FORMATION, AS INDICATED BY THE LOSS OF CIRCULATION OF DRILLING FLUID IN WELLS DRILLED NEAR THE SINKHOLE. CONSEQUENTLY, A BRINE-DENSITY-FLOW-CYCLE MAYBE OPERATING: RELATIVELY FRESH WATER MOVES UPWARD UNDER ARTESIAN PRESSURE AND DISSOLVES SALT: THE DENSER BRINE MOVES DOWNWARD UNDER GRAVITY FLOW IN THE SAME FRACTURE SYSTEM. ALTERNATIVELY, DOWNWARD FLOW OF WATER FROM AQUIFERS SUCH AS THE SANTA ROSA FORMATION OR QUATERNARY SEDIMENTS ABOVE THE SALT IS ALSO A POSSIBLE EXPLANATION FOR DISSOLUTION. A PLUGGED AND ABANDONED WELL THAT WAS LOCATED WITHIN THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF THE SINKHOLE MAY HAVE PROVIDED A CONDUIT FOR WATER MOVEMENT.

“COMPOSITION OF WATER IN THE WINK SINK RESEMBLES THAT OF WATER IN NEARBY WELLS PRODUCING FROM THE QUATERNARY ALLUVIUM AND FROM THE TRIASSIC SANTA ROSA FORMATION. “

“HENDRICK WELL NUMBER 10-A WAS DRILLED IN 1928 AT THE SITE NOW WITHIN THE CUMFERENCE OF THE SINKHOLE. THE WELL, WHICH INITIALLY PRODUCED ABOUT 80 PERCENT WATER FROM THE PERMIAN TANSILL FORMATION, WAS PLUGGED WITH CEMENT AND ABANDONED IN 1964. THE WELL WAS NOT USED FOR BRINE DISPOSAL. OVER 12 MILLION BARRELS OF SALT WATER PRODUCED FROM THE HENDRICK FIELD WERE DISPOSED OF BY INJECTION INTO THE PERMIAN RUSTLER FORMATION DURING 1961. WATERFLOOD PROJECTS IN THE HENDRICK FIELD BEGAN IN 1963 AND ARE STILL IN PROGRESS.”

“SINKHOLES SIMILAR TO THE WINK SINK OCCUR IN OTHER AREAS OF NORTH AMERICA. THEIR MORPHOLOGY, ASSOCATED STRATA, AND MODE OF FORMATION SUGGEST THAT DISSOLUTION, BRECCIATION AND SURFACE SUBSIDENCE COMMONLY OCCUR DURING THEIR FORMATION.”

THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS GEOLOGISTS CONCLUDED THAT THE VOLUME OF THE WINK SINK IS MORE THAN TWICE THAT OF THE GARGILL SALT PLANT SINKHOLE IN BARTON COUNTY, KANSAS.

BLOCKS OF EARTH UP TO 30 FEET LONG CONTINUED TO FALL INTO THE HOLE AT IRREGULAR INTERVALS FOR SEVERAL WEEKS AFTER FORMATION OF THE WINK SINK BEGAN. ANNULAR CRACKS THAT SURROUND THE HOLE EXTENDED UP TO 290 FEET FROM THE SOURTHERN EDGE. A LARGE AREA BORDERING THE SOUTH RIM OF THE SINKHOLE SUBSIDED ABOUT 10 FEET RELATIVE TO THE NORT SIDE WITHIN THREE DAYS AFTER THE SINKHOLE BEGAN CAVING IN.

DESPITE THE FORAMATION OF THE MAMMOTH CRATER, THERE WAS LITTLE EFFECT ON OIL FIELD OPERATION IN THE AREA. WORKMEN CUT AND REROUTED A SHELL OIL COMPANY PIPELING SIX INCHES IN DIAMETER THAT CARRIED CRUDE OIL TO STORAGE TANKS 1,000 FEET NORTHEAST OF THE SINKHOLE. THE BRINE PIPELINE ORIGINALLY BEING INSPECTED BY THE HARVARD CONSTRUCTION COMPANY MAINTENANCE CREW WAS BROKEN BY THE EXPANDING CRATER, AND AS A RESULT THE OIL WELLS PRODUCING THE BRINE HAD TO BE SHUT DOWN.

WORKERS FOR PETRO-LEWIS COMPANY, AND INDEPENDENT OIL COMPANY OPERATING IN THIS AREA OF WINKLER COUNTY, WERE ATTEMPTING TO CIRCULATE CEMENT BEHIND THE LINER IN THE HENDRICK WELL NUMBER 3-A, A PRODUCING OIL WELL LOCATED ABOUT 500 FEET SOUTH OF THE SINKHOLE, WHEN THE SINKHOLE BEGAN TO FORM. THEY PLUGGED AND ABANDONED THE WELL ON JUNE 5, 1980, BECAUSE THE PROMIXITY OF TENSION FRACTURES TO THE WELL, ACCORDING TO MIKE HANDREN, A PETRO-LEWIS COMPANY REPRSENTATIVE.

THE WINK SINK BROUGHT NATION-WIDE PUBLICITY FOR WINKLER COUNTY IN THE DAYS AND WEEKS THAT FOLLOWED THE JUNE 3, 1980 DISCOVERY. NEWSPAPER RADIO AND TELEVISION REPORTERS FROM NEWS MEDIA BASED FAR FROM WINKLER COUNTY CAME TO SEE THE GIANT SINKHOLE. FEW AMERICANS, WHO WERE UP-TO-DATE ON CURRENT EVENTS, FAILED TO READ OR HEAR ABOUT THE FAMOUS WINK SINK.

AFTER SEVERAL DAYS OF SEARCHING, IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT ATLANTIC-RICHFIELD CO. (ARCO) OWNED THE SURFACE RIGHTS IN THE AREA OF THE SINKHOLE. AS A RESULT, WITHIN A SHORT TIME A SIX-FOOT CHAIN LINK FENCE WAS BUILT AROUND THE CRATER AND ADJOINING LAND TO KEEP CURIOSITY SEEKERS AND AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHERS A SAFE DISTANCE FROM THE HOLE.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD C. WHITE DEMOCRAT OF ELPASO WHOSE 16TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT INCLUDED WINKLER COUNTY; ARRIVED ON THE SCENE A SHORT TIME AFTER THE CRATER BEGAN FORMING AND TOURED THE AREA.

OFFICIALS FROM THE TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION KEPT A CAREFUL EYE ON THE SINKHOLE FOR SEVERAL WEEKS, FEARING THAT IT MIGHT ERODE NORTHWARD AND ENDANGER HIGHWAY 115. BUT AFTER A FEW DAYS OF RAPID GROWTH, THE WINK SINK – LIKE THE OIL FIELD BOOMTOWN FOR WHICH IT WAS NAMED BEGAN TO CALM DOWN. IT NEVER SERIOUSLY THREATNED HIGHWAY 115 OR THE SHELL TANK FARM SLIGHTLY TO THE NORTH. ITS ONLY VICTIMS WERE THE BRINE PIPELINE AND A SOUTHWESTERN BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY UTILITY POLE.

TODAY THE WINK SINK LIES QUIETLY INSIDE ARCOS’ CHAIN-LINK YARD GROWING LITTLE IF ANY AT ALL. AN OCCASIONAL CURIOUS TOURIST STILL STOPS AND SNEAKS OVER THE FENCE TO SHOOT THOSE CANDID SHOTS FOR THE FOLKS BACK HOME BUT THERE IS LITTLE ACTIVITY AT THE SPOT 2.5 MILES NORTHEAST OF WINK, WHERE THE MAMMOTH CRATER FIRST BEGAN TO GOBBLE UP HUGE AMOUNTS OF EARTH ON THAT HOT JUNE MORNING IN 1980.

THE WINK SINK APPEARS PEACEFUL ENOUGH WHEN OBSERVED TODAY. BUT THEN SO DID THAT AREA OF HENDRICK FIELD, WHICH SURROUNDED HENDRICK WELL NO. 10-A EARLY ON THE MORNING OF JUNE 3, 1980.

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