Old questions are rising as the ground around oil and gas operations is sinking in Texas oil and gas country, E&E reports. Four sinkholes have developed in the 1.48 square-mile town of Daisetta in the last month — all on a property that formerly housed an oil field service company and where a 500-foot wide sinkhole opened up in 2008. The connection between oil and gas operations and sinkhole formation is not as well-documented as between oil and gas operations and earthquakes, but researchers — and nearby communities — are concerned. “Sinkhole formation is very common,” said Zhong Lu, a professor of earth sciences at Southern Methodist University. “Critically, we disturb [the earth] with hydrocarbon activities.”

Sinkholes are especially common around older wells where pipes may have degraded or operators used more aggressive drilling techniques — this also means finding out what causes them is especially difficult because the responsible parties may have disappeared or gone bankrupt and, according to Jeff Paine, a senior research scientist with UT-Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology, “any evidence is buried in the depths of the sinkhole and are not accessible for people to find out.” (E&E News)