A leading scientist studying the Bayou Corne-area sinkhole in Louisiana that emerged in an Assumption Parish swamp 18 months ago says the hole has shown signs of stabilizing.
The Advocate reports a CB&I hydrogeologist working for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources on the sinkhole, Gary Hecox, told about 40 residents and officials at a community meeting in Napoleonville that a variety of scientific measurements show the sinkhole is trending toward stability and tracking with past models for its ultimate size.
Those models would mean the hole would not reach La. 70 to the north, Bayou Corne to the south or the Bayou Corne community to the west. Hecox said the hole is still growing, but the rate of growth has slowed.
Newly released surveys show the hole has grown from about 25 acres in November to 29 acres in February and is continuing southwest beyond the southern arm of a containment levee surrounding the sinkhole and toward the Bayou Corne waterway.
Hecox cautioned that the hole bears more monitoring.
“This is Bayou Corne. Every time you think you’ve got a tight handle on this, she rears up and does something .but right now, a lot of data is trending towards a much more stable condition,” Hecox said.
Scientists believe an underground salt dome cavern owned by Occidental Chemical Corp. and operated by Texas Brine Co. had some sort of collapse or breach of its outer supporting sidewall of salt.
This failure deep underground allowed rock to flow into the massive hollow cavern carved from the salt, scrambled the rock surrounding the salt dome and led to the sinkhole.
The sinkhole and gas fears have forced an evacuation of the 350 residents in the area, though a few people still live in Bayou Corne.