History of Seeps in the Santa Barbara Channel

5000 B.C. First archaeological signs of human inhabitance and the use of tar and oil from seeps in the Santa Barbara area
500 A.D. Because large whole trees were scarce, Chumash Native Americans began building plank canoes called "tomol" and caulked them with boiled tar and pine pitch
1000 Chumash natives preparing tar as a traded commodity
1542 Oct. 16, 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sails into the SB Channel and noted that the natives were using the asphaltum as canoe caulk. He used some of the tar to caulk his own ships
1772 Padre Pedro Font of Juan Bautista De Anza's colonizing party notes tar balls on the beaches and springs of asphaltum flowing to the sea
1792 George Vancouver, nagivator for Captian Cook, noted an irridescent, oily film over the entire surface of the SB Channel as well as the strong smell of tar
1850 Geologists and early settlers note and begin to tap into the oil and tar resources of Santa Barbara county
1860 George Gilbert, former whale oil refiner, builds a refinery near Ojai and produced lamp oil
1880-1890 New residents hit oil and gas reserves while drilling for water, gas industry starts up with wells onshore
1896 Offshore oil production begins along the coastline of the SB Channel offshore of Summerland. Reservoirs are depleted by 1920
1928 Ellwood Oil Field discovered and oil tanks were constructed onshore
1941-present Scientific studies of the oil and gas seeps offshore of Goleta
1942 Ellwood oil pier bombed by Japanese submarine, only attack on continental US since War of 1812
1970 Estimation of oil seepage offshore of Coal Oil Point placed at 50-70 barrels per day (Allen et al. 1970)
1972 Fischer et al. conduct first sonar surveys of gas seeps offshore of Coal Oil Point

ARCO/Mobil place Seep Tents over an area of intense seepage offshore of Coal Oil Point and initially capture 1,000,000 ft3/day. The current daily tent capture rate is equivalent to the emissions of 35,000 cars.

1994 UCSB studies of seeps begin with repeated sonar surveys, tracer releases in the seawater, gas composition analysis, sidescan sonar, and seep gas capture
1996 Repeat sonar surveys along with earlier sonar surveys conducted by Fischer in 1972 offshore of Coal Oil Point, indicate an almost complete dissappearance of gas emissions from the sea floor surrounding Platform Holly over ~20 years
1999 UCSB papers suggest that the reductions in natural hydrocarbon seepage can be attributed to offshore production at Platform Holly reducing reservoir pressure
2004 Continuing research by UCSB on the variation of seep gas discharge, and estimation of the oil seepage rate