The not-so-great sounding name “Tarwater” keeps coming up in our recent hikes. There’s a creek with that name in the Pescadero hills, and I crossed over this on a recent ramble. True to its name, the Tarwater had an oily sheen and the rocks in the stream bed accumulated black tar. It was clearly petroleum based – you could smell it in the air. What gives? A bit of pointing and clicking tells me that we have petroleum and natural gas deposits under the San Mateo County hills. My source says that there’s 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? The USA would use that much fuel in about 4 hours, so it’s probably not worth going after until the more plentiful deposits are exhausted. For now, this natural oil seep will continue undisturbed.

Strange old trees near the Tarwater.

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