What Are Tar Pits?
What Are Tar Pits?
Tar pits are large asphalt deposits that form when decayed organic matter deep underground is subjected to pressure and causes crude oil to seep up through fractures, conduits, or porous sedimentary rock layers, pooling at the surface.
These tar pits may be seen in different geological settings around the world, giving rise to nearby ancient fossils from thousands of years ago, which have been preserved in their asphalt surrounding; they provide a glimpse into prehistoric life on Earth.
The most famed tar pits can be found in La Brea in Los Angeles, California.
What Causes Tar Pits?
Tar pits are caused by crude oil seeping to the surface through cracks and fissures in the Earth’s crust. As the light fraction of the crude oil evaporates, what remains is a sticky pool of tar or asphalt–the tar pit.
These remarkable formations occur most commonly in sedimentary rocks like limestone since they are more permeable and provide an easier path for the oil to reach the surface.
Tar pits may also form with volcanic activity, bringing natural petroleum deposits nearer to the Earth’s surface. Humans have used tar pits for centuries as sources of petrolatum, an essential ingredient in many products such as paints, cosmetics, and lubricants.
Do Tar Pits Exist Today?
Yes, tar pits still exist today and they continue to capture the imagination of visitors and scientists alike. The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California is the most famous example, with over three million fossils recovered since its excavation began back in 1906.
This area is known for its diverse collection of extinct animals including saber-toothed cats and mammoths that have been preserved for thousands of years by the asphaltic seeps.
These tar pits are evidence of an ancient ecosystem that existed during the Pleistocene era some 10,000 to 40,000 years ago.
The active excavation site continues to yield new discoveries and insights into our knowledge of past species and environments making it a fascinating destination for modern day visitors.
Can You Touch Tar Pits?
Yes. You can actually touch the ‘tar’ at the La Brea Tar Pits, although you won’t get stuck! In fact, it’s quite fun to experience and explore.
You’ll find tiny puddles of asphalt all over the park grounds, mostly around the pond – giving you the opportunity to treat yourself to a unique sensory experience. Touching and feeling this sticky substance offers a memorable, one-of-a-kind moment for kids and adults alike!
What Country Has The Largest Tar Pit?
The largest tar pit in the world is located at La Brea in Trinidad, where Nature has produced asphalt (bitumen) for centuries. This lake of sticky goo has become famous because of its sheer size and the abundance of fossils that have been unearthed around it.
The tar pits here are believed to be up to 10,000 years old and span an area over 30 acres wide, providing a unique look into prehistoric life.
Over 3 million bones have been discovered here, ranging from different species of mammals, birds, and reptiles – all preserved by the natural asphalt. The site has also served as an important research ground for paleontologists looking to uncover ancient secrets about history and evolution.