Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

John S. McCartney

Second Advisor

Richard A. Regueiro

Third Advisor

Joe L. Ratigan


The objective of this research was to describe how the transient heat transfer phenomena influences the results of mechanical integrity tests (MITs) performed on the well of an underground storage cavern in rock salt. Underground caverns have been developed in salt deposits throughout the world for the purpose of producing brine and storing compressed air, hydrocarbons, and waste products; and are a critical underground infrastructure. Despite the very low permeability of rock salt, limited volumes of stored product may diffuse out of the cavern. Additionally, underground storage caverns change in size because of salt creep, leading to difficulties in estimating the volume of product retained in the cavern. The great importance of these issues creates the need to accurately determine if a cavern well has mechanical integrity and therefore suitable for storage. Although MITs on cavern wells are mandated by both federal and state governments, a rigorous standardization of testing procedures has not been developed. Finite element analyses and other numerical methods have been employed to show how local thermal conditions and test duration influence the results of a typical MIT performed on standard well sizes, and how the loss of integrity may be masked by the testing conditions.