Monday, August 04, 2008

L.A.'s Newest Hotspot: A Volcano Is Brewing. Maybe.

A patch of land in Ventura County -- near the tranquil town of Fillmore -- has seen the ground heat-up to an astounding 812 degrees!

This has happened five or six times since at least 1987, with the latest occurrence of smoke pouring from cracks in the ground as recently as last Friday. The event continues to puzzle firefighters and geologists after a month and a half of monitoring.

While there are no flames, firefighters cleared dry brush and created a 30 foot containment line surrounding the smoking hole.

Geologists who surveyed the area (in a part of the old Sespe Oil Field), are unclear what's causing the heat-- but they have a theory:

The area is an active landslide that has trapped hydrocarbons generally found in petroleum products. As the surface cracks, oxygen creeps in and causes a naturally occurring combustion.

The 812-degree temperature was only a foot below the surface.

The LA Times reports that the 3,000-acre Sespe Oil Field was, "...discovered in 1887 and has since produced about 50 million barrels of oil. The field contains more than 300 oil wells." 210 of the well sites remain active.

Always willing to turn tabloid, Hollywood Thoughts offers a couple of other possibilities: If the geologist's landslide theory isn't rock solid, perhaps we're witnessing the long discussed nightmare (some would call it a dream) of California cracking in half to slide into the sea... or maybe this is birth of a baby volcano and the folks of Fillmore are about to repeat the fate of Pompeii's populace?!? Stay tuned...