Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science - Geology



First Advisor

Dr. Kevin Stafford

Second Advisor

Dr. Melinda Faulkner

Third Advisor

Dr. Wesley Brown

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Farrish


In the Gypsum Plain, suffosion processes have encouraged road failure through dissolution and transport of gypsic soils; however, no prior research has been conducted within the Delaware Basin in regard to these processes. These phenomena were evaluated in both field and laboratory settings in order to assess the parameters of suffosion development associated with Ranch to Market (RM) 652 in Culberson County, Texas, where infrastructure extends across Castile and Rustler strata. Field studies simulated surficial ponding in various gypsic soils and correlated suffosion potential with soil composition and thickness. Soluble fractions of gypsic soils were delineated through geochemical analyses, further expanding upon the soil descriptions published in the Culberson County Soil Survey (USDA, 2013). Suffosion modeling replicated processes observed in the field through repeated infiltration of Dellahunt and Elcor soils—soil piping and subsidence were induced within suffosion models. Lineaments inferred as solutional fractures were delineated using color infrared (CIR) images to determine regional suffosion potential.

Results obtained from this research were used to form a conceptual model of suffosion development in order to better mitigate damage imposed on infrastructure in evaporite karst terrains. Regions with thick, heterogeneous soils of low to moderate gypsum content (10-70%) and moderate fracture densities (100-800 m/km2) are optimal for suffosion development. This model should be considered for future projects in not only the Gypsum Plain, but for other arid environments with significant evaporite karst and gypsic soils as well.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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