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We are pleased to announce that the Study of the Wink Sinks has begun. Through the support of industry, The Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG) and University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB) have received funds that are sufficient to begin Phase One of the study which includes:

  • A better understanding of the extent and rates of ground subsidence and identify areas of potential risk to public safety and infrastructure in Winkler County.
  • Build data bases for the Wink to Kermit area to serve as a spatial framework for all the study results. These will include topography, transportation and public service infrastructure, aerial photographs and oil and gas wells and petroleum infrastructure.
  • Complete an Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) analysis at the Center for Space Research at UT Austin. Satellite data is being acquired to identify priority areas showing anomalous rates of recent vertical movement of the ground surface that can be indicators of potential sinkhole development.
  • Digital Photogrammetry of older sets of aerial photos that can be used to determine high-resolution topographic changes that preceded the development of Wink Sinks 1 & 2 and the associated Sags. This is necessary to determine if subsidence preceded Sink Hole development.
  • Collection of oil and gas well data to determine if changes in the status of well bores and near well bore changes during the past 80 years can be identified and related to the development of the sinks and sags. We will be asking operators to provide data for this portion of the study.
  • Maintaining contact with the local stakeholders and partners is critical and we hope that a frequent exchange of pertinent information can speed and sharpen the focus of the project. To this end, a monthly newsletter will be sent to Sponsors and Stakeholders and informational meetings will be held.

This represents the First of Three Phases of the program. In the future, when funding becomes available, the US Geological Survey will investigate the potential effect of the Sinks, and their root causes, on the potable ground water in the Wink-Kermit area. UTPB will investigate the circulation of deep, saline ground waters, interpret the shallow structure in available 3D seismic surveys and expand the study of the well bore and near well bore intervals on trend to the north and south. The BEG will generate high quality Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) which is a remote sensing system used to collect topographic data, and conduct surface mapping of the sink areas.

Among the Sponsors are Chevron and Apache Corporation. Devon has made a $50,000 gift to the University of Texas, Jackson School of Geosciences earmarked for the Wink Sink Project. Other oil companies have also made donations.