I thought the 17 27 year anniversary of this unique geological disaster was occasion enough for another look. On November 21, 1980 a Texaco oil rig was drilling an oil exploration well from Lake Peigneur in Southern Louisiana when the drill stem punched into the third level of the nearby Diamond Crystal Salt Company as a result of a miscalculation (understatement!). The lake, approximately 2.5 BILLION gallons, drained into the mine taking the drilling platform with it and another 11 barges, trees, and some of the surrounding terrain. As if that weren’t enough, the Delcambre Canal which normally flows from the lake into Vermillion Bay actually reversed flow for several days and filled the mine and the lake with salt water. It also temporarily created Louisiana’s tallest waterfall at 164-ft (see photo at left). Read on for more info, video, maps, and links.
On May 15 a drilled shaft rig operated by Mid America Drilling Corp was nearly swallowed by the 9-ft diameter hole it was drilling for a cell tower foundation near Harlan, Iowa. Fortunately nobody was injured and the truck did not suffer any significant damage.
In Arizona, the standard of practice is to use a temporary surface casing to prevent dangerous failures like that. I once saw pictures of a drilling contractor superindendent almost get sucked into a collapsing shaft, even with the temporary casing. Pretty scary stuff. Source: Harlan Tribune. (Photo by Samantha Bruck)