Knowing the location of oil seeps could help firefighters stop the spread of wildfires

Oil seeps contain natural gas and under the right conditions could catch fire (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Geologist Gregg Wilkerson has been searching for oil seeps, which he says could prove resourceful for firefighters.

"Oil seeps are naturally when oil seeps to the surface either along faults or bedding plains in the rocks. The oil makes its way up those zones of weakness and are exposed to the surface," said Wilkerson.

There's about 75 known oil seeps in Kern County. Through Wilkerson's research, he has found three more.

"These are actually pretty rare occurrences worldwide. There's really maybe 10 places in the world where this sort of thing happens, and Kern County is one of them," said Wilkerson.

Although rare, these oil seeps can be dangerous. They contain natural gas and under the right conditions have the ability to catch fire.

Wilkerson said by identifying the location of these oil seeps, firefighters can use the information to build defensible spaces around them before a wildfire starts.

"Monitoring those to see which ones may cause other fires in the future can help them in their vigilance, because early detection of a wildfire is critical," said Wilkerson.

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