Verify: Is West Texas sinking?

WFAA 8

Originally Posted: April 18, 2018

A new research report, from Southern Methodist University and funded by NASA, found a “…large swath of West Texas oil patch is heaving and sinking at alarming rates.”

A new research report, from Southern Methodist University and funded by NASA, found a “…large swath of West Texas oil patch is heaving and sinking at alarming rates.”

To find out if West Texas is sinking, first I’m going to the guy who wrote the report, Dr. Zhong Lu. He’s a geophysicist who studies the earth using satellites.

By shooting a radar beam from space — like a measuring stick — a satellite can calculate elevation changes down to the centimeter. Lu did that over a 4000 square mile area.

“This area is sinking at half meter per year,” Dr. Lu says.

That’s more than a foot-and-a-half. Lu says, that’s alarming because that much change to the earth’s surface might normally take millions of years.

One of the images in his reports shows an area of sinking earth, near Wink, TX from 2011. Five years later, the satellite shows the sunken area had spread almost 240%.

“In this area that you are studying, is oil and gas the cause of the sinking?” I ask.

“Related to the oil and gas activities,” he says.

“Oil and gas activity is causing the sinking in West Texas?” I clarify.

“Yes,” he says. READ MORE

By | 2018-04-19T10:14:00+00:00 April 19th, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences, Faculty News|Comments Off on Verify: Is West Texas sinking?
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