I&W Brine Cavern

Installing and monitoring an early-warning system for a brine cavern beneath several features including two major highways.

2009 - 2017
Carlsbad, New Mexico
New Mexico Oil Conservation Division, AMEC Environment & Infrastructure

In 2009, the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s Oil Conservation Division contracted RESPEC to install an early-warning system over a 450-foot-deep brine cavern beneath the former I&W brine production facility in Carlsbad, New Mexico. The brine cavern posed an imminent threat because a collapse might impact adjacent residential areas, two major highways, a feed store, a church, and a major irrigation-supply canal. The real-time, early-warning system uses a Campbell Scientific datalogger connected to four highly sensitive tiltmeters, pressure transducers in monitoring wells and on the cavern’s wellhead, and water levels in the irrigation canal. Data are collected at a 1-minute frequency and are transferred and stored off site using a radio communication network. The data are then immediately available on a password-protected website. Alarm thresholds are set in the monitoring system, which, when exceeded, generate text messages and emails to designated recipients to notify them of the alarm status.