The formation of sinkholes in Winkler County, Texas is concerning due to the amount of oil and gas infrastructure and the potential for catastrophic losses. Evidences of new and potential sinkholes have been documented, and determining the cause of these sinkholes is paramount to mitigate the devastating consequences thereof. Studies have shown that the Wink sinkholes result from both natural and anthropogenic influences. Data depicting land-cover changes, alterations in the hydrologic systems, climate changes, and oil and gas activity were analyzed in an effort to better understand the link between these processes and sinkhole formation. Results indicate that the combination of these processes lead to the current state. Land cover changes were highest in shrub versus grasses, undeveloped to developed and croplands. Rises in temperature and a decrease in precipitation indicate a shift towards a more arid climate. Changes to the hydraulic system are a direct result of these land cover changes while the groundwater quality depicts an environment prone to dissolution. Historical oil and gas activities have created pathways of meteoric water infiltration to the underlying limestone and evaporite formation. The combination of these processes create an environment that accelerates sinkhole formations. Understanding these processes allows for the development and implementation of better land practices, better groundwater protections, and the need for monitoring and maintaining aging oil and gas infrastructure.
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