Thursday, February 21, 2008
Can You Guess What This Is?
Around the perimeter of Park LaBrea you may notice these curious metal columns that look like a lamppost, but that have vents a the top instead of a lamp. What are they? They are methane vents, as Kevin Roderick recently discovered in the course of writing a book on L.A. There’s a note about the vents at this page his blog, down in the comments section.
The vents exhaust the methane so that the gas doesn’t build up underground (remember, we’re across the street from the bubbling, belching, geologically active TAR PITS and we’re sitting on top of an oil field). This was supposedly the same underground methane that blew a hole through the basement of the Ross Dress-for-Less (next door to PLB) in the 80s. But a 1992 report on the incident connected the explosion to a type of oilfield wastewater disposal popular in the 50s. Either way, these little vents remain reminders that everyday, as we move through our routine, we are smack in the middle of L.A.’s strange geologic circumstances.