Two giant sinkholes in West Texas expanding, researchers say

Star Telegram

Originally Posted: June 17, 2016

A couple of giant sinkholes in the West Texas oil patch are apparently expanding, and might eventually converge into one gigantic hole.

The sinkholes are about a mile apart and sit between Wink and Kermit off I-20 west of Midland-Odessa. They were caused by lots of oil and gas extraction, which peaked from the mid-1920s to the mid-1960s, according to researchers at Southern Methodist University.

Satellite radar images indicate that the giant sinkholes are expanding and that new ones are forming “at an alarming rate” as nearby subsidence occurs, they report in the scientific journal Remote Sensing. One is 361 feet across, about the size of a football field; the other is larger, 670 to 900 feet across.

“A collapse could be catastrophic,” said geophysicist Jin-Woo Kim, who leads the SMU geophysical team reporting the findings.

In addition to Wink and Kermit (combined pop. about 7,000), there’s lots of oil and gas production equipment and installations and hazardous liquid pipelines in the area, Kim said in the report. The fresh water injected underground in the extraction process “can dissolve the interbedded salt layers and accelerate the sinkhole collapse.”

There’s something not too dissimilar happening in Daisetta, east of Houston.

Officials have fenced off the area around the sinkholes between Wink and Kermit and they’ll be monitored, but residents don’t appear to be worried about them.

“They’re a ways off from the highway; if nobody mentions it, then nobody is interested in it,” Kermit City Manager Gloria Saenz told the New York Daily News.

A preacher of the Apocalypse from Indiana had a decidedly different take, exclaiming on YouTube: “Here’s my concern. It’s like hell is being enlarged, and that without measure.”

Well, maybe not quite. READ MORE

Who Will Win?

SMU News

Originally Posted: June 17, 2016

Election 2016 with USA Flag in Map Silhouette Illustration

The 2016 presidential election has come a long way since the first presidential debates last fall and SMU’s election gurus have offered their insights every step of the way. Take an inside peak at the evolution of the election process through their eyes: READ MORE

“I think we’re seeing some of the weaknesses of Donald Trump as a general election candidate, as opposed to a Republican primary candidate,” Cal Jillson, political science professor

USA Today

Originally Posted: June 16, 2016

At the one-year mark, Trump campaign faces crossroads

DALLAS — One year ago, Donald Trump rode down the lobby escalator at his midtown Manhattan office tower and launched the presidential campaign that upended Republican politics — a campaign that now may be facing a make-or-break crossroads.

“Who knew this was going to happen?” Trump told supporters Wednesday in Atlanta in celebrating his first 12 months as a presidential candidate.

Yet, while marking the anniversary with a Thursday night rally in Dallas, Trump continues to face criticism from Republican lawmakers and is now looking at a loss of support in the polls after his comments following the terrorist attack in Orlando. READ MORE

New study by geophysicists Zhong Lu, professor, Shuler-Foscue Chair, and Jin-Woo Kim research scientist, Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, finds massive sinkholes are unstable

Science Daily

Originally Posted: June 14, 2016

Geohazard: Giant sinkholes near West Texas oil patch towns are growing — as new ones lurk

Satellite radar images reveal ground movement of infamous sinkholes near Wink, Texas; suggest 2 existing holes are expanding, and new ones are forming as nearby subsidence occurs at an alarming rate

Two giant sinkholes that sit between two West Texas oil patch towns are growing — and two new ones appear to be lurking, say geophysicists. Satellite radar images reveal substantial ground movement in and around the infamous sinkholes near Wink, Texas — suggesting expansion of the two existing holes, with subsidence in two other nearby areas suggesting new ones may surface. READ MORE


Congratulations to SMU mathematician Douglas A. Reinelt named associate provost

SMU News

Originally Posted: June 14, 2016

The 2015-16 Faculty Senate president will take on new responsibilities effective Aug. 1, 2016

June 14, 2016

Douglas A. Reinelt, SMU Associate ProvostSMU Provost Steve Currall has named Professor of Mathematics and Faculty Senate Past-President Douglas A. Reinelt as Associate Provost effective Aug. 1, 2016.

In his duties as associate provost, Professor Reinelt will manage faculty recruitment and hiring, assist the Provost in administering faculty tenure and promotion, organize general faculty events, and coordinate faculty honors programs such as the University Scholar-Teacher Award and the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Awards. In addition, he will oversee department reviews and lead the annual Department Chair Review.

Reinelt will also chair the Educational Programs Committee, which advises the Provost on matters involving curricular change, new program initiation, and program discontinuance.

“Professor Doug Reinelt is ideally equipped to serve as SMU’s new Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs,” said Dr. Currall, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “He has a deep commitment to the University stemming from having served as a faculty member at SMU for more than 30 years. His leadership will also be informed by his experience as a two-time chair of the Department of Mathematics in Dedman College of Humanities and Science. Doug has held a variety of other leadership positions on campus including, most recently, President of the Faculty Senate and a member of the SMU Board of Trustees. I look forward to partnering with Doug to further develop faculty excellence at SMU.”

Reinelt, an expert in mathematical modeling of fluid problems, joined the Dedman College mathematics faculty in 1983. He served as department chair from 1999 to 2005 and from 2009 to 2015. His research focuses on scientific computation and perturbation analysis of free surface fluid problems including fluid dynamics of bubbles and thin films, coating flows, and foam rheology.

Reinelt has published dozens of articles that have appeared in journals such as Physical Review LettersSIAM Journal on Applied MathematicsJournal of Fluid MechanicsPhysics of Fluids, and the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science and has contributed chapters in Foams and Emulsions and other special volumes. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and Sandia National Laboratories.

In addition to serving as mathematics department chair, Reinelt has served as Undergraduate Director in the Department of Mathematics as well as on the Faculty Council, Advisory Committee for Promotion and Tenure in Dedman College Division III, and the Undergraduate Council. He has also served on the Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C) Executive Committee and many other department, college and university committees.  In 2007, he received the Mathematics Department’s Betty McKnight Speairs Endowed Teaching Excellence Award.

As a Habitat for Humanity (HfH) volunteer for 25 years, Reinelt has helped build hundreds of houses as a construction volunteer and house leader primarily in South and West Dallas. He also serves as faculty adviser to SMU’s HfH Student Chapter and has been the adult leader for SMU student HfH trips to Paraguay, El Salvador and Costa Rica to build homes.  He received the SMU Faculty Volunteer of the Year Award in 2007 for his work with HfH and the Dallas Chapter’s highest honor, the Mary Brock Award, in 2011 for his commitment to the mission of eradicating substandard housing in the Dallas Area.

“I have seen the great progress that SMU has made during my many years as a faculty member and know that the university has the potential to become an even greater institution. I am enthusiastic about joining Provost Currall and his team as we strive to improve the overall academic excellence of SMU,” Reinelt said. “I believe that my experience as a faculty member, department chair, and President of the Faculty Senate will be helpful as we work together to create an even better environment where faculty members can realize their full potential and outstanding new faculty are excited about joining SMU.”

Reinelt earned his B.S. degree in physics and mathematics from the University of the Pacific in 1978 and his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 1983. He has been a visiting scholar or visiting faculty member at Stanford University, Sandia National Laboratories and Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. READ MORE


North Texas Venues Reject Donald Trump Campaign

100.3 JackFM

Originally Posted: June 14, 2016

Two North Texas Cities have refused to play host to Presidential Candidate Donald Trump for a campaign rally. Both Grand Prairie and Irving have rejected Trumps’s visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex on Thursday.

“It’s very unusual that the Republican candidate for president in this deep red state would be having trouble finding a venue for his rallies,” said SMU Political science professor Cal Jillson.

According to CBSdfw, Trump originally requested for the rally to be held at the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie. The City of Grand Prairie denied that request and blamed traffic, other events in the area, along with an inadequate police force to provide security.

Trump rallies typically involve violence and riots; however, Dallas activists insist they’ll be ‘peaceful’.

“There are various groups that are very upset on policy terms with him and they’re going to counter-demonstrate and that obviously raises security concerns particularly in the wake of Orlando,” said Cal Jillson, SMU Political Science Professor.

Last September, Trump held a rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, drawing a crowd of more than 20,000 people. AAC event coordinator – Dave Brown says there are no plans to host Trump again this time.

Irving also rejected the Trump campaign’s request for the Irving Convention Center, releasing the following statement:

“In consultation with the Irving Police Department, the city of Irving decided it was not given sufficient time – given a 48 hour notice – to gather the resources necessary to ensure the safety and security of those attending such a large-scale, high-profile event.”

The Dallas Police Department has not commented on any preparations for the convention, wherever it may be held, this Thursday night. READ MORE

Geohazard: Giant sinkholes near West Texas oil patch towns are growing — as new ones lurk

SMU Research

Originally Posted: June 13, 2016

Residents of Wink and neighboring Kermit have grown accustomed to the two giant sinkholes that sit between their small West Texas towns.

But now radar images taken of the sinkholes by an orbiting space satellite reveal big changes may be on the horizon.

A new study by geophysicists at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, finds the massive sinkholes are unstable, with the ground around them subsiding, suggesting the holes could pose a bigger hazard sometime in the future.

The two sinkholes — about a mile apart — appear to be expanding. Additionally, areas around the existing sinkholes are unstable, with large areas of subsidence detected via satellite radar remote sensing.

That leaves the possibility that new sinkholes, or one giant sinkhole, may form, said geophysicists and study co-authors Zhong Lu, professor, Shuler-Foscue Chair, and Jin-Woo Kim research scientist, in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences at SMU. READ MORE

“Trump is making it more and more clear he doesn’t care if people think he’s racist,” Matthew Wilson, associate professor of political science

Oregon Live

Originally Posted: June 10, 2016

‘Never Trump’ leaders try to prod Mitt Romney by insisting he can be the next … Martin Van Buren

Weekly Standard editor and “Never Trump” leader William Kristol has begged for months. But everyone he’s approached to take on an independent conservative presidential run has said no.

Kristol remains determined to keep presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump out of the White House. So now he’s turned writer Jay Cost loose with a unique argument aimed at Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican Party standard-bearer who has been vocal in his opposition to Trump. Writes Cost in the Weekly Standard:

“The nation needs a candidate to defend what Martin Van Buren once called ‘plain republicanism,’ and to do so regardless of the chances of victory. Van Buren himself furnishes an inspiring example.” READ MORE

Voters may like the past but their minds are on the future

Fox 4

Originally Posted: June 9, 2016

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Campaign rhetoric may dwell on achievements of the past but voters are thinking about the future when they go to into ballot boxes, said SMU Professor Jeffrey Engel, director of SMU’s Center for Presidential History. “When we have an election where one candidate says, ‘I’m talking about the future’ and the other candidate says, ‘I’m talking about the past,’ the future candidate almost always wins,” Engel said.

Latinos see a bright economic future according to new Pew study; here’s why that’s good for Texas

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: June 9, 2016

Latinos are increasingly optimistic about their finances, a report from the Pew Research Center finds, and that’s good news for the Texas economy.

Although other measures still show that Latinos have lagged behind Americans overall since the recession, economists say those who see their financial situations as promising are more likely to make big purchases, invest in their education or start new businesses.

“This sense of optimism, while it might not quite match other economic indicators, means people are feeling confident enough to purchase a car, save money for their children’s college education,” said Mark Lopez, the study’s author and Pew’s director of Hispanic research.

In other words, your attitude makes a difference in money matters. READ MORE