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April 12, 2013

Experts Called in to Tackle Bayou Sinkhole Devastation

By Meryl Ann Butler

The 8-month old, continually growing sinkhole in Bayou Corne, Louisiana, is an unprecedented ecological event. Gov. Jindal called for the creation of a Blue Ribbon Committee to "provide science-based recommendations for public safety in the Bayou Corne area." The Blue Ribbon Commission Initial Technical Briefing was offered on April 5, at LSU.

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Bayou Corne Sinkhole, 04.02.13 showing berm construction by On Wings of Care, used with permission

This update is the 14th article in this Opednews series about the Bayou Corne sinkhole.

BACKGROUND: In Spring of 2012, Louisiana's Corne and Grand Bayou residents noticed strange bubbling in the bayou for many weeks, and they reported smelling burnt diesel fuel and sulfur. Suddenly a sinkhole the size of three football fields appeared on Aug. 3, swallowing scores of 100-foot tall cypress trees. The sinkhole resulted from the failure of Texas Brine Company's abandoned underground brine cavern. The Department of Natural Resources issued a Declaration of Emergency on Aug. 6, and 150 families were evacuated. 

For maps, diagrams and additional information, please see the thirteen previous installments in this series, listed at the end of this article.

NAPOLEONVILLE, LA:  The 8-month old, continually growing sinkhole in Bayou Corne, Louisiana, is an unprecedented ecological event.

The sinkhole is currently 975' x 840,' according to a map released by the Assumption Parish office of Homeland Security & Emergency Prepardness on April 3, 2013. This is large enough to hold the HMS Titanic, (at 882' long with a 92' beam.)


(Composite image for illustrative purposes, not to scale.) by Collage by Meryl Ann Butler

When the sinkhole first appeared in on August 3, the diameter was 372-feet, and it covered approximately 3 acres. Current estimates place the size at 15 - 20 acres.

The most recent figures place the depth (which fluxuates) at approximately 440 feet.

If the 555' high Washington Monument was placed in the sinkhole, only the top 1/5 would be visible.


Washington Monument by Public domain photo and diagram via wiki


Washington Monument in sinkhole by Collaged image by Meryl Ann Butler

On March 19,  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal made his first visit to the Bayou Corne community since the crisis began in August, 2012. Shortly after, he called for the creation of a Blue Ribbon Committee to "provide science-based recommendations for public safety in the Bayou Corne area."

The Commission's purpose is to ensure the long-term safety of Bayou Corne residents through development of specific criteria to measure progress in achieving safety goals. A list of the 13 members, and additional info, is here.

The Dept. of Natural Resources noted that Assumption Parish Police Jury President, Marty Triche, said, "We appreciate Governor Jindal's support in directing that this Commission be formed with some of the best minds available throughout the world, so they can give us real answers for our people on when those who want to return home can do so safely."

The Blue Ribbon Commission Initial Technical Briefing was offered on April 5, at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. The support materials are well-organized, comprehensive, and clear. The pdf of the presentation can be downloaded at click here

The slides from the presentation were later arranged into a video published on April 12 on rainbeaudais' YouTube channel.  (Watching in full screen and frequent pausing to read slides is recommended.)  It also includes a video showing strange water movement on the surface of the sinkhole, which was never seen by the public before the meeting:

UPDATE: On April 12, Texas Brine Company officials stated that new studies show that 97 percent of the 20-million-barrel subsurface cavity is now filled with rock and other underground material, according to The Advocate.

Sinkhole photo kindly provided by http://www.onwingsofcare.org/

Some of the information and diagrams in this article were taken from "The Bayou Corne Cavern Collapse, Technical Summary," by Gary R. Hecox,  Ph.D.,  PG, CB&I, March 18,  2013, Louisiana State Legislative Committee Hearing.

Additional information is available on the Bayou Corne Sinkhole Community page on Facebook.

Previous articles in this series:
13. Sinkhole Update: Explosive Gases Found in Adjacent Residences  (April 4, 2013) click here=164803&submit=Back

12. Bayou Sinkhole Update: Increased Seismic Activity, Access Ramp Caves In  (March 28, 2013) click here

11. Bayou Corne Sinkhole Swallows 25 More Trees (March 26, 2013) click here=164412&submit=Back

10. Over 90 "Micro" Earthquakes Overnight at the Bayou Corne Sinkhole (MAR. 13, 2013)  click here

9. Nightmare Sinkhole Out of Control,  Cave-ins Continue at Bayou Corne (Feb. 13, 2013) at click here

8. Just Released: Wildly Bubbling Gases Near Catastrophic Louisiana Sinkhole (Jan. 22, 2013) at click here

7. Gov. Jindal Ignores Sinkhole Disaster; Activists & Scientists Demand Assistance for Traumatized Residents (Jan. 20, 2013)  at click here

6. Sudden Seismic Activity in Louisiana Bayou: Sinkhole Burps, Pad Cracks, Police Copter Arrives UPDATED (Jan. 19, 2013) at  click here

5. Bayou Sinkhole Site Update: Flammable Tap Water (Nov. 2, 2012) at click here

4. Alarming Sinkhole Continues to Cave In: Seismic Activity, Odors, Health Symptoms Reported (Oct. 30, 2012) at click here

3. Mysterious Bayou Sinkhole Continues to Cave In: Radiation, Hydrocarbons Detected (Sept. 29, 2012) at click here

2. Dangerous Levels of Radium at Corne Bayou Sinkhole (Aug. 26, 2012)  at click here

1. Does Sudden Sinkhole Portend a Nuclear-sized Explosion? (Aug. 17, 2012) at click here


Submitters Website: http://www.merylannbutler.com

Submitters Bio:

Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing for over 25 years. She studied art with Harold Ransom Stevenson in Sea Cliff NY for seven years before opening her own art school. Stevenson had been a student of Norman Rockwell. Her art in a wide variety of media can be seen on her YouTube video, "Visionary Artist Meryl Ann Butler on Creativity and Joy" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcGs2r_66QE A NYC native, her response to 9-11 was to pen an invitation to healing through creativity, entitled, "90-Minute Quilts: 15+ Projects You Can Stitch in an Afternoon" (Krause 2006), which is a bestseller in the craft field. The sequel, MORE 90-Minute Quilts: 20+ Quick and Easy Projects With Triangles and Squares was released in April, 2011. Her popular video, How to Stitch a Quilt in 90 Minutes with Meryl Ann Butler can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrShGOQaJQ8 She has been active in a number of international, arts-related projects as a citizen diplomat, and was arts advisor to Baltimore's CIUSSR (Center for Improving US-Soviet Relations), 1987-89. She made two trips to the former USSR in 1987 and 1988 to speak to artists, craftpeople and fashion designers on the topic of utilizing the arts as a tool for global wellbeing. She created the historical "First US-Soviet Children's Peace Quilt Exchange Project" in 1987-88, which was the first time a reciprocal quilt was given to the US from the former USSR. Her artwork is in collections across the globe. Meryl Ann is a founding member of The Labyrinth Society and has been building labyrinths since 1992. "Creativity and Healing: The Work of Meryl Ann Butler" by Burl Hall is at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Creativity-and-Healing--T-by-Burl-Hall-130414-18.html Burl and Merry Hall interviewed Meryl Ann on their BlogTalk radio show, "Envision This," at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/envision-this/2013/04/11/meryl-ann-butler-art-as-a-medicine-for-the-soul She has written for Opednews since 2004. Archived articles www.opednews.com/author/author1820.html Older archived articles, from before May 2005 are here.

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