Failures

27 Years Ago: Bizarre Drilling Disaster at Lake Peigneur

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.

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No Picture
Geologic Hazards

ASCE: Cease and Desist over Video Spoof

The American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE sent a cease and desist letter to the owner of the Levees.Org website notifying them to remove a video spoof of its post-Katrina levee inspection. Of course, through the wonders of the internet, Levees.org removed it from YouTube, but someone else posted it again. And because of all the fuss, it’s more popular than it would have been otherwise with over 16,000 views at the time of this post. Click through to watch it.

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Miscellaneous

URS Completes $3.1 Billion Buyout

URS Corp. has completed the buyout of Washington Group International Inc. for $3.1 billion in cash and stock. I saw the buyout listed as $3.2 billion somewhere else…hey, what’s another $100 million, right? Read more about the deal.

I used to work for URS, and we used to joke about their seemingly continuous acquisition of companies. Hence the Borg reference in the image I created at left.

"We are URS. You will be assimilated. Your engineering and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own." — Martin Koffel (just kidding)

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No Picture
Standards and Codes

ASFE: Fighting Back Against Expert Witnesses

The ASFE website has an interesting article on the ethics involved in expert witness testimony. They have been at the forefront of that arena since the publication of Recommended Practices for Design Professionals Engaged in the Resolution of Construction Industry Disputes, a document endorsed by 37 major organizations. The most interesting part in my mind was how they point out the role of an expert witness is to provide an opinion as to whether the standard of care was followed or not. According to ASFE, many expert witnesses do not do the necessary research to determine what the standard of care is. More…

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Geologic Hazards

Anniversary of Loma Prieta Earthquake – USGS Warns of Hayward Fault

October 17 was the 18th anniversary of the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake that struck the Bay area.  But a recent story by the Bay Area’s local ABC affiliate, ABC7, chose to focus on another earthquake, a 1868 earthquake of about the same magnitude that occurred on the Hayward Fault. According to the USGS, the Hayward Fault has a return period of about 140-years and  "It’s the most heavily urbanized fault in the U.S. and it’s just waiting to go off…" Next year will be the 140-th anniversary of the last earthquake on the Hayward Fault. At some point it has the potential to be a very bad earthquake there. More after the break. (Photo by sanbeiji)

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Geoarchaeology

Drilling for Origins of Humanity

Lake Malawi is an African rift lake, formed as the earth’s crust is slowly spreading apart. This lake is one of the deepest in the world and one of the lead geologists, Dr. Andy Cohen of the University of Arizona (go Cats!) says that the lake "acts like a rain gauge" and through their drilling expedition they have determined that the lake at one time dropped nearly 2,000 ft between 135,000 and 90,000 years ago. This drought in what is now a lush tropical part of Africa may explain why Man’s early ancestors migrated from that continent. More after the break.

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