Infrastructure construction atop karst geology presents special challenges and risks. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Conservation Division considers the presence of karst features such as sinkholes and caverns to indicate an “unstable area”, and require special treatment of such areas for pit construction. Although it is possible to detect and map buried karst features with geotechnical borings, doing so requires numerous time consuming borings. Here we describe the rapid survey of three large potential flowback pit construction sites in New Mexico using electromagnetic induction. Each site required approximately one day to survey, and each of the sites was found to contain indications of buried sinkholes. Review of topographic, soils and air photo data available for the sites did not contain obvious evidence of the presence of karst features. Knowledge of the locations of the karst features allowed to appropriate foundation, design and siting decisions to be made in advance of moving earth to construct the pits.

Primary Author / Conference Presenter:
Dr. J. Berton Fisher
Managing Principal
Lithochimeia, LLC
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Blake Redden, IMMIX, Tulsa, OK