Tag Archive for: underwater cutting

Help Wanted: Can You Explain This Strange Splashing in Water Near RR Bridge Repairs?

On March 6, I flew over the Union Pacific bridge repairs near 59 and the West Fork and noticed some splashing I could not explain. I’ve been on a fruitless search for answers ever since. So now I’m enlisting your help. But first a quick update on the status of repairs.

Update on Repairs

Not much had visibly changed since the previous month on February 23rd. I observed that:

  • The north side of the river looked considerably cleaner.
  • Virtually all supports for the north side of the temporary bridge had been removed.
  • Virtually all of the old supports between the new supports for the main bridge were gone.
  • The big red crane was starting to retreat back to the southern side of the river.
  • Some sort of underwater cutting torch operation was in progress.
  • Pontoon-based lifting equipment was retrieving cut pipe and old cement from the river bottom.
Incremental changes since Feb. 23 flyover. This and all photos below taken March 6.

Enlargement Reveals Splashing

However, when I downloaded the images at home and reviewed them on a big screen, I saw something I could not explain. I saw a giant splash in the water under the bridge that went up at least 10 feet. At first I thought something fell from the bridge. But there was nothing on the bridge as you can see above.

Strange splash in water near old support. Caught at 1/8000th of a second from a helicopter 250 feet away.

Further review of the images reveal tanks of industrial gas, likely used for underwater cutting torches.

Tanks of what might have been acetylene for underwater torches.

Then I noticed the same splash in the same place in dozens of other images as the helicopter circled around the bridge.

Similar splash in same spot several seconds later from different camera position. Also at 1/8000th of a second.

Something falling could have created the splash in one frame. But not multiple frames. Especially since I was shooting at 1/8000th of a second to minimize vibration from the helicopter.

Shot from other side of bridge about 30 seconds later.

The series of shots shows continuous splashing in a virtually identical pattern.

26 Frames Taken 3 Seconds Apart Show Similar Splash

It took almost a minute and a half to circle the operation. During that time, I took 26 shots. Each shot shows water “erupting” in the same place, the same pattern, and to roughly the same height. All while workers sat by unconcerned!

So this was a normal part of the operation. But what caused it? I’m not familiar with underwater cutting. However, I’m guessing, with all the offshore experts in Houston, someone can explain it.

Photo of same site when workers no present by Mike Combat Wilcox.

Mike Combat Wilcox sent me this image from his boat when workers were not present. No workers. No splash. Hmmmm. The mystery deepens.

Two Ways to Help

A hearty corona-virus-free handshake through social media to anyone who has the answer. I will publish it…with a credit if you can explain it.

And let’s have some fun while we’re at it. We need more of that these days.

I’ll also publish a separate list of “creative” answers from the clueless (like me). Try to make people laugh with those. For instance, were the splashes actually “oil company stocks taking a nosedive during corona week”? You get the idea. Have fun people! If you can. I know its painful.

On a More Serious Note

Here’s another wide shot that shows the progress of bridge re-construction. Remember, the goal: widen supports so trees don’t get caught in them during the next flood.

But widening supports requires removing the old ones. Piece by piece. That’s where the cutting and pulling comes in.

If you have possible explanations (real or humorous), please reply through the contact page on ReduceFlooding.com.

Posted by Bob Rehak with image from Mike Combat Wilcox on 3/18/2020

932 Days after Hurricane Harvey