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Author Topic: What are Soap Holes?  (Read 7145 times)

Guy Christie

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What are Soap Holes?
« on: 28/09/2009 15:30:03 »
Guy Christie  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi

I live in Alberta Canada on the prairies and was informed about an area where the locals call these things 'soap holes'.  

I was exploring the area when I came upon a mound of earth that looked just that.  When I stepped up on it I dropped up to my waist in this soupy wet clay like mud and had to grab the side and yank myself out (scared the you know what out of me).  

I was also told that a couple of guys put 2 telephone poles end to end in one and they sunk out of sight; these poles were about 25 feet long each.

I googled the term 'Soap Hole' as described and came up blank but then I thought maybe these holes or mounds (they ooze from underneath) where actually quicksand but from what I can tell they are similar but not.

Is there different types of quicksand or do you think this is something different?

Thanks
Guy Christie

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 06/10/2009 09:41:45 by chris »


 

Offline frethack

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Re: What are Soap Holes?
« Reply #1 on: 28/09/2009 21:15:34 »
Do you have a picture of the mound?  Might be a glacial feature...something akin to a super sloppy drumlin?
 

Offline JimBob

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Re: What are Soap Holes?
« Reply #2 on: 29/09/2009 02:32:50 »
They appear to be karst features of some sort. They are classed by the USGS (below) as basin features. Thus, they are filed with something - water and clay, most likely - from the description given.

The Glossary of Geology has this entry for the name "soap hole" -

"Soap Hole - A term used in Wyoming for a hole resulting from the wetting of the outcrop surface of bentonite."

I found this on the USGS site.
   
Feature Detail Report for: Soap Holes
FeatureID:   1594538
Name:   Soap Holes
Class:   Basin (Definitions)
Citation:   Collected during Phase I data compilation (1976-1981), primarily from U.S. Geological Survey 1:24,000-scale topographic maps (or 1:25K, Puerto Rico 1:20K), various edition dates, and from U.S. Board on Geographic Names files.
Entry_Date:   05-Jun-1979
*Elevation:   6529/1990

*Elevations in feet/meters from the National Elevation Dataset
Counties
Sequence    County    Code    State    Code    Country
1    Fremont    013    Wyoming    56    US
Coordinates (One point per USGS topographic map containing the feature, NAD83)
Sequence    Latitude(DEC)    Longitude(DEC)    Latitude(DMS)    Longitude(DMS)    Map Name
1    42.4669009    -108.0378645    422801N    1080216W    Soap Holes


If the topo map for this location is retrieved, the map shows the name "Soap Holes" along the road coming off the Coors Mountains to the south. This creek ends in a closed ephemeral water body, thus the closed drainage of karst features in an outcrop of a clay known as bentonite.

I am checking with a "doctor of geology" friend of mine to see if she has heard of them so I may retract this at any time. As she works at one of the best libraries of geology for the Geological Society of America cataloging non-US geologic articles for geologic reference datbases, she can find it if anyone can.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2009 15:32:05 by JimBob »
 

Offline JimBob

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Re: What are Soap Holes?
« Reply #3 on: 29/09/2009 17:35:30 »
The first word from the good Dr. Dickerson is "Consider me stumped. This is the first I've heard of such features -- need to do some rooting around. I'm not at all familiar with the geography/geology around the Coors Mts." Later " "Soap" and the thixotropic behavior suggest talc, bentonite, or other hydrothermally altered stuff."

She points out that "karst" implies voids so these are filled voids - POSSIBLY karst features.

MORE TO FOLLOW!
« Last Edit: 29/09/2009 19:42:42 by JimBob »
 

Offline JimBob

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Re: What are Soap Holes?
« Reply #4 on: 03/10/2009 04:14:36 »
Ok, verification of the bentonite we deduced from the Glossary of Geology definition.

Yet it leaves unanswered the deepness of these holes, as Guy described in his question. He was in one and nearly did not make it out and his friend described putting telephone poles (~ 30 plus feet long) vertically into on of these soap holes. This suggest that here must be some other factor in at lease some of these soap holes.

In the one map reference from The USGS (United States Geological Survey) the soap holes are in a closed drainage system. The water flows in and does not flow out. This has caused the shales, sandstones and limestones under the bentonite beds to have eroded away, forming depressions in which bentonite from the surrounding area can accumulate.

There must be some erosion that has been filled by the bentonite if theses are 30+ feet deep. Bentonite beds in the Albian are rarely more than a foot thick.

« Last Edit: 04/10/2009 14:25:16 by JimBob »
 

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Re: What are Soap Holes?
« Reply #4 on: 03/10/2009 04:14:36 »

 

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