Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

2013

Abstract

Karst development in Permian Castile evaporites has resulted in complex speleogenetic evolution with multiple phases of diagenetic overprinting. More than 10,000 surficial features, primarily sinkholes, occur throughout Culberson County, Texas, and Eddy County, New Mexico, based on GIS-analyses where laminated Castile sulfates crop out. Cave development is largely the result of hypogene processes, where ascending fluids from the underlying Bell Canyon Formation migrate near vertically through the Castile Formation, creating caves up to 100 meters deep and over 500 meters long, which have been breached through a combination of collapse and surface denudation. Numerous small and laterally limited epigene features occur throughout the region, as well as the anomalously large Parks Ranch Cave System with more than 6.5 kilometers of cave development and multiple large, incised, sinkhole entrances. Hypogene caves exhibit varying degrees of epigenic overprinting as a result of surficial breaching. Water resources in the Castile Formation are directly related to karst development with extremely heterogeneous flow networks. Most springs in the region discharge sulfate-rich waters, contain high levels of hydrogen sulfide, and support sulfate-reducing bacterial colonies. Isolated stream passages in northern Culberson County provide locally significant water resources that do not exhibit elevated hydrogen sulfide concentrations. Local water tables vary greatly over the region and few caves access base-level conditions. Upward migration of hydrocarbons complicates regional hydrology and diagenesis, resulting in extensive evaporite calcitization, which greatly modifies both fluid / rock interaction and permeability structures.

Comments

Presented and published inNCKRI Symposium 2: Proceedings of the Thirteenth Multidisciplinary Conference on Sinkholes and the Engineering and Environmental Impacts of Karst, National Cave and Karst Research Institute, Carlsbad, NM, p. 123-131

Published open access in http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/sinkhole_2013/Proceedings/Evaporite/3

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