Two infamous sinkholes are expanding and threatening residents of Wink and Kermit, Texas

Two giant infamous sinkholes sit between Wink and Kermit, Texas.

But new satellite images suggest the two existing holes are expanding, and new ones are forming as nearby subsidence occurs at an alarming rate.

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Residents of Wink and neighboring Kermit have grown accustomed to the two giant sinkholes that sit between their small West Texas towns.
But now radar images taken of the sinkholes by an orbiting space satellite reveal big changes may be on the horizon.
Measurements from satellite radar images of two giant West Texas sinkholes (dark black areas) shows the ground around them is sinking, including indications a potential new sinkhole is developing. The rates of east-west deformation of the ground (cm/year) are indicated in blue (eastward) and red (westward). (Jin-woo Kim, SMU)

A new study by geophysicists at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, finds the massive sinkholes are unstable, with the ground around them subsiding, suggesting the holes could pose a bigger hazard sometime in the future.

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Potential new giant sinkhole forming in between the two already existing craters.

The two sinkholes — about a mile apart — appear to be expanding. Additionally, areas around the existing sinkholes are unstable, with large areas of subsidence detected via satellite radar remote sensing.

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Location of the two giant holes in the ground bwteen Wink and Kermit, Texas

That leaves the possibility that new sinkholes, or one giant sinkhole may form. This is similar to Arizona where giant cracks mysteriously appear deep in the ground.

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The ground collapses are probably related to oil operations in the area.

This area is heavily populated with oil and gas production equipment and installations, hazardous liquid pipelines, as well as two communities.

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Wink Sink 1, formed on June 3, 1980, measured 110-m across and 34-m deep at the time of collapse. On aerial photographs taken in 2004, it has an approximately circular outline that is 94- to 117-m across and is elongated to the northeast-southwest. University of Texas

The intrusion of freshwater to underground can dissolve the interbedded salt layers and accelerate the sinkhole collapse.

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Wink Sink 2 formed 1.6 km south of Wink Sink 1 on May 21, 2002. This sinkhole has expanded from its original surface width of 137 m to an oval shape with widths ranging from 185 to 250 m. The cause of collapse at Wink Sink 2 has not been determined. University of Texas

A collapse could be catastrophic.

Read more: Geohazard: Giant sinkholes near West Texas oil patch towns are growing — as new ones lurk and Wink Sink

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