Asphalt Domes

26 Apr 2010

At April 25th ... in 700 feet deep water off Santa Barbara in California is a series of asphalt domes that it is thought derive from flows of petroleum deposited by an underwater volcano 35,000 years ago. The deposits hardened into asphalt domes (see Nature Geoscience April 25th). The domes were discovered by a deep submersible vehicle and were teeming with life - like an artificial reef. They are being compared to an underwater version of the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. It is hoped that creatures will also be trapped inside the domes when they are penetrated - so we might have some surprises to come. Note the date, 35,000 years ago, the date assigned by Firestone et al to a global catastrophe that witnessed the demise of Neanderthals and many species of megafauna. Whether this has anything to do with volcanic activity at that time is a moot point yet to be established - or even suggested.