In Brief

Dramatic Video: Louisiana Sinkhole Swallows Trees

Bayou Corne sinkhole
A section of trees show signs of imminent collapse near a sinkhole that opened up in Bayou Corne, La. (Image credit: Assumption Parish Police Jury)

A growing toxic sinkhole in Bayou Corne, La., swallowed a stand of trees on Wednesday (Aug. 21). Parish officials caught the dramatic scene on video.

The giant sinkhole in southeastern Louisiana opened in August 2012. An earthquake swarm preceded the water- and chemical-filled crater, which appeared near the northwest edge of the Napoleonville salt dome. The salt dome, a plug-shaped upwelling of salt, was being mined for salt brine by injecting freshwater in wells and extracting the dissolved salt.

Bayou Corne's 350 residents were evacuated from their homes last year and still haven't been allowed to return. The sinkhole is gobbling land, earthquakes continue and the water is laced with hydrocarbons and explosive methane gas from naturally occurring oil and gas deposits. The U.S. Geological Survey and state officials have concluded that the sinkhole formed after an underground mine cavern collapsed. The state of Louisiana has sued Texas Brine, the company that owns the land and was operating the mine, for the environmental damage and cleanup costs.

Read more: Assumption Parish Policy Jury

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Becky Oskin
Contributing Writer
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.