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Cavern damaged, now crews have to figure out what happened

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Posted: Sep 25, 2012 12:18 AM by Trey Schmaltz
Updated: Sep 25, 2012 12:18 AM
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Topics: bayou corne, grand bayou, assumption, sinkhole, texas brine, salt dome, cavern, brine

BAYOU CORNE- Scientists discovered a salt brine cavern, deep under Assumption Parish, has been damaged. Seismic activity in the area is blamed.

"The cavern damage was caused by an external source," a spokesperson for Texas Brine said in a news release late Monday.

Texas Brine operated a brine operation in the Bayou Corne/ Grand Bayou area years ago. Caverns were created inside a salt dome, deep underground to extract brine.

In May, people began reporting tremors and bubbles in the bayous. Over the summer, ground subsided and created a sinkhole. Since then, crews have been trying to determine the cause- and what can be done to fix the situation.

"The tool used to measure cavern depth bottomed out at approximately 4,000 feet - a point estimated to be 1,300 feet higher than the floor had been measured prior to the cavern closure in 2011," a representative of Texas Brine reported.

"This preliminary finding indicates that some type of dense material has fallen to the bottom of the cavern. A sample of the material has been retrieved from the cavern floor and will be analyzed."

That material is described as abnormal, compared to what should be found in the sealed cavern.

"Sonar inspection that is currently being conducted will provide a more detailed image of the cavern's interior conditions and the possible source of the material at its base."

An entire community was evacuated, and still is not allowed to return.

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