Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Engineering Science


Geology and Geological Engineering

First Advisor

Greg Easson

Second Advisor

Louis G. Zachos

Third Advisor

Bruce Davis

Relational Format



The mining of salt domes provides economically important resources through salt and brine production and storage of petroleum products as part of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In order to assess the risk to nearby communities for potential of salt dome collapse, it is important to understand the growth of the Bayou Corne sinkhole and the conditions surrounding the Napoleonville Salt Dome that may have exacerbated its formation. The Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish, Louisiana has been expanding since it formed overnight on 2 August 2012. Growing from slightly over 2 acres to more than 30 acres today, the sinkhole has forced the evacuation of approximately 350 local residents and threatens transportation on the nearby Highway 70 hurricane evacuation route. The sinkhole was caused by solution mining of a brine well (Oxy-Geismar Well 3), expanding the subterranean storage cavity too close to the edge of the salt dome. This caused a sidewall collapse into the storage cavity and a rapidly growing sinkhole. The response to the Bayou Corne sinkhole collapse has involved 12 local/state agencies and five federal agencies. The State of Louisiana initiated a $12 million lawsuit against the proprietor of the well, Texas Brine, to recoup much of the State’s costs for response to the sinkhole collapse. The potential for future subsidence in the Bayou Corne area continues to pose a risk to residents. To mitigate this risk, it is important to understand and identify the risk of collapse of caverns on mined salt domes.



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