A non-profit organization.
To reduce the environmental impact of natural gas and oil seep pollution upon our ocean, beaches and atmosphere through education and awareness.
To alert the public to the magnitude of natural seep pollution in the Santa Barbara Channel, and to the availability of an invaluable resource to fund environmental cleanup and develop alternative energy sources. It is through collaboration with an informed public that we can build the bridge to a healthy and sustainable future.
Primary Sources of Information
University of California, Santa Barbara
According to a study by the National Research Council (NRC) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences,
“natural seeps are the highest contributors of petroleum hydrocarbons to the marine environment. Of the total load of petroleum hydrocarbons discharged into the sea, natural seeps account for the largest load, nearly 61 percent of the total. In southern California, natural seeps represent 98 percent of oil inputs to the offshore zone. In fact, the extensive system of natural seeps off Coal Oil Point accounts for nearly two thirds of the total load received by coastal and offshore waters of the Pacific seaboard, including Hawaii. “
The largest natural oil and gas seeps in the Western Hemisphere lie in the Santa Barbara Channel. According to the California State Lands Commission, they comprise more than 1,200 of the over 2,000 active submarine seeps along the California coast. Half of these occur within 3 miles of an area called Coal Oil Point, located just west of Santa Barbara near the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus.
It is estimated that oil seepage for a single 6-mile stretch, including Coal Oil Point, averages 10,000 gallons of oil each day (240 barrels). Every 12 months about 86,000 barrels of oil seep into the ocean—the equivalent of the quantity of oil spilled in the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara. Since 1970, the quantity of oil that naturally seeps into the Santa Barbara Channel equals ~ 31 “1969” oil spills.
Crude oil and natural gas seep naturally out of fissures in the ocean seabed and eroding sedimentary rock. These seeps are natural springs where liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons leak out of the ground (like springs that ooze oil and gas instead of water).
Huge, natural seeps have been spewing oil and gas into the Santa Barbara Channel for centuries. According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and other sources, the resulting tar was used by the Chumash and other native populations for waterproofing.
Our coastal waters are home to rich and diverse marine environments. The areas offshore Santa Barbara support a great diversity of marine species, many of which are extremely rare and given special protection under federal and state law.
As seep bubbles rise to the ocean surface, substantial amounts of hydrocarbons dissolve in the water column, forming a subsurface gradient of dissolved hydrocarbons, principally methane. The remaining seep bubbles that do not dissolve continue to the surface and burst, releasing the gaseous components to the atmosphere.Learn More
Only through education can Californians and Americans learn the truth about the massive amounts of natural oil and gas seep pollution coming from offshore Santa Barbara, California’s coastal areas. Since Native Americans first arrived in coastal California, approximately 800 million barrels of oil have seeped into the coastal environment. Peer-reviewed published reports document the connection between existing Santa Barbara offshore oil production and natural seep pollution reductions over the last 20 years and the larger natural seep pollution reduction potential through expanded offshore oil and gas production.
At right, the schematic shows a vertical slice through the Earth’s crust, with folded layers of sedimentary rocks holding oil and gas in the crest of an underground fold. http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/seeps/what.html
When the fold extends to the land (or sea) surface, a seep can occur. The schematic shows how natural seep oil is connected to the formations from which companies collect oil.
Not many know the offshore oil industry safety record in California using new exploration and production technologies. There is a 38-year safety record of oil and gas production offshore Santa Barbara with less then 1,000 barrels spilled. By comparison, 2 million barrels of natural seepage occurred over the same time period.
These policy changes will lead to cleaner statewide air and water quality, more renewable electricity and electric/plug-in car usage, lower taxes, lower fuel and natural gas prices, reduction or elimination of imported gas to California and fewer oil tankers entering California state waters.
of natural gas and oil seep pollution upon our ocean, beaches and atmosphere through education and awareness.
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Since our inception, SOS has made progress to be proud of!!! BUT we still have a long way to go. The thing about progress is that it continues to open up new opportunities. And we want to be able to take advantage of ALL of them. To do this, we need your help.
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~ Joseph Lawrence
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