GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 225-12
Presentation Time: 4:30 PM


LAND, Lewis, National Cave and Karst Research Institute, 400-1 Cascades Ave., Carlsbad, NM 88220

Sinkholes and other surface karst features are naturally-occurring phenomena in regions underlain by soluble bedrock such as limestone or gypsum. The lower Pecos region of southeastern New Mexico and west Texas is particularly prone to karst geohazards because of the widespread occurrence of Permian evaporites at or near the land surface. Sinkholes in this region occur over a broad spectrum of scales, ranging from less than one to several hundred meters in diameter, and are often associated with human activity such as solution mining or road construction. Depending on thickness and mechanical properties of the overburden, sinkholes may develop slowly as broad subsidence features or rapidly by catastrophic collapse. Sinkholes receive widespread news coverage when they form in densely populated parts of the country such as Florida or Kentucky. When these features form in more sparsely populated regions such as the desert southwest, they may go unreported for long periods of time. Sinkholes nevertheless pose a significant geohazard for the transportation and pipeline network in southeastern New Mexico; their occurrence is sometimes difficult to predict and remediation is often challenging and expensive.