Mining Publication: Investigation of Methane Occurrence and Outbursts in the Cote Blanche Domal Salt Mine, Louisiana
The Bureau of Mines conducted an investigation into the occurrence of outbursts of salt known to be responsible for explosions, fatalities, and damage in domal salt mines. The purpose of the investigation was to develop a basis for predicting these outbursts based on geologic and associated physical properties of salt. The investigation was conducted at the Cote Blanche salt mine in southern Louisiana. Because outbursts are the primary mode of methane emission into the mine, more than 80 outbursts, ranging in size from 1 to 50 ft in diameter, have been mapped. These outbursts generally are aligned and elongate parallel to the direction of salt layering. More than 200 salt samples, both random and selected, were tested for methane content. It was found that outburst zones are well correlated with high methane content. Detailed mapping also revealed that the zones are well defined, with salt crystal size abruptly increasing upon entry into the zone. The intensity of folding and kinking of the salt layering within the outburst zone also appears to increase. An interbedded sand layer occurring throughout the mine does not appear to be a significant source of methane. However, fine-grained salt may be related to outburst occurrence.