Abstract

Areas of Permian salt dissolution associated with 15 large alkaline lake basins on and adjacent to the Southern High Plains of west Texas and eastern New Mexico suggest formation of the basins by collapse of strata over the dissolution cavities. However, data from 6 other alkaline basins reveal no evidence of underlying salt dissolution. Thus, whether the basins were initiated by subsidence over the salt dissolution areas or whether the salt dissolution was caused by infiltration of overlying lake water is conjectural. However, the fact that the lacustrine fill in Mound Lake greatly exceeds the amount of salt dissolution and subsidence of overlying beds indicates that at least Mound Lake basin was antecedent to the salt dissolution. The association of topography, structure, and dissolution in areas well removed from zones of shallow burial emphasizes the susceptibility of Permian salt-bed dissolution throughout the west Texas–eastern New Mexico area. Such evidence, combined with previous studies documenting salt-bed dissolution in areas surrounding a proposed high-level nuclear-waste repository site in Deaf Smith County, Texas, leads to serious questions about the rationale of using salt beds for nuclear-waste storage.

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