West Texas has a Sinkhole Problem

Sinkholes are becoming a major problem in West Texas near Wink.   Here and Now reports on the phenomena and speculates on possible causes.


The earth is crumbling in West Texas. Scientists from Southern Methodist University have new research that shows two massive sinkholes between the towns of Wink and Kermit are expanding.

Years of drilling for oil and gas have helped wash away salt beds underneath the ground. A shifting water table has made the problem worse and in some places the ground is sinking five inches a year, according to the satellite readings.

Now there’s concern the pits could converge into one giant hole. “A collapse could be catastrophic,” SMU research scientist Jin-Woo Kim said.

These wounds in the West Texas desert have been around for years. The first hole opened up near an abandoned oil well on June 3, 1980. Twenty-two years later, about a mile away, the second one appeared. From the sky, they look like high-caliber bullet holes

“It’s pretty scary. It’s just a big huge pit,” said Winkler County Sheriff George Keely, who has peered over the edge many times in his career. “It’s like standing on the moon looking into a crater. And you can see where it’s just caved off. It’s broken off over the years more and more. When you look down there, you’re looking at water.”

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