Hydrogeologic studies prove that natural dissolution of bedded salt occurs at shallow depths in many parts of the Permian Basin of the southwestern U.S.A. This is especially well-documented on the east side of the basin in study areas on the Cimarron River and Elm Fork in western Oklahoma, and on the Red River in the southeastern part of the Texas Panhandle. Four requirements for salt dissolution are: (1) a deposit of salt; (2) a supply of water unsaturated with respect to NaCl; (3) an outlet for removal of brine; and (4) energy to cause water to flow through the system. The supply of fresh groundwater in the region is recharged through permeable rocks, alluvium, terrace deposits, karstic features and fractures. Groundwater dissolves salt at depths of 10-250 m, and the resulting brine moves laterally and upward under hydrostatic pressure through caverns, fractures in disrupted rock, and clastic or carbonate aquifers until it reaches the land surface, where it forms salt plains and salt springs. In many areas, salt dissolution produces a self-perpetuating cycle: dissolution causes cavern development, followed by collapse and subsidence of overlying rock; then the resulting disrupted rock has a greater vertical permeability that allows increased water percolation and additional salt dissolution. ?? 1981.
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Dissolution of salt on the east flank of the Permian Basin in the southwestern U.S.A.