Formation of the Wink Sink, a Salt Dissolution Collapse Feature, Winkler County, Texas




Baumgardner, Jr., Robert W.
Hoadley, Ann D.
Goldstein, Arthur G.

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The Wink Sink, located in Winkler County, Texas, formed suddenly on June 3, 1980. Within 24 hours, it expanded to a maximum width of 360 feet (110 meters) and reached a maximum depth of 110 feet (34 meters) by June 5. The volume of the sinkhole is estimated to be approximately 5.6 million cubic feet (158,600 cubic meters). Over the course of June 3 to June 6, a large area along the southern rim of the sink experienced subsidence of about 10 feet (3 meters) relative to the northern side. Further subsidence of 1.456 feet (44.4 centimeters) occurred along the southern rim between July 19 and December 12, 1980.

The precursor to the sinkhole was likely a solution cavity that migrated upward due to successive roof failures, resulting in a collapse chimney filled with brecciated rock. The dissolution of salt in the Permian Salado Formation is believed to have created the solution cavity, with the Salado Formation's depth ranging from 1,300 to 2,200 feet (396 to 670 meters). However, data on the size and initial depth of the solution cavity are unavailable.

Several dissolution zones are present within the Salado Formation in the region. Dissolution occurring in the middle of the Salado evaporite sequence may have been caused by groundwater flow along fractured anhydrite interbeds. Water could have come into contact with salt either through downward movement from overlying aquifers or upward movement from underlying aquifers under artesian pressure.


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