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The Geology of Oil in the Santa Barbara Channel & The Chumash Use of Asphaltum

April 6, 2017 from 5:30pm

Exhibit Opening Reception 

Where: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, California
When: Thursday, April 6, 2017 • 5:30 - 7 pm 

Cost: Free to the Public
Please RSVP: Go to or call (805) 456-8747

Sponsored by: George H. & Olive J. Griffiths Charitable Foundation • June G. Outhwaite Charitable Trust • SOS California - Lad Handelman and Judy Rossiter • Wood-Claeyssens Foundation • John C. Woodward • ExxonMobil • Freeport-McMoRan Oil and Gas LLC • Hank and Mari Mitchel • Ken Vadnais • Venoco • Western States Petroleum Association • Chuck and Mary Wilson • R.H. Heck & Associates • Robert and Claudia Kirby • James Lima • Petroleum Production Pioneers 

The Geology of Oil in the Santa Barbara Channel and The Chumash Use of Asphaltum will be phase one of a broad exhibit plan featuring The History of Oil in our Channel.

The Geology of Oil in the Channel exhibit will show how oil is formed, discuss the natural oil and gas seeps in the Santa Barbara Channel- the second largest such seeps in the world- and display through a topographical map the geological forces that created the many layers of rock under our local waters.

The Chumash Use of Asphaltum will address the indigenous people of this area, who found tar balls on beaches and hardened mounds on the mainland and collected it for their own future use as well as for trade. 

In addition to the Museum’s existing life size replica of a tomol (canoe) (the Chumash mode of transportation and trade), the exhibit will feature an interactive touch board of replicated tool artifacts used by the Chumash to construct their tomols. The use of asphaltum for water proofing tomols, sealing baskets, repairing fractured bowls, decorating pipes and whistles, and as weights for skirts as well as part of the assemblage of fishing kits, arrows and harpoons for hunting and fishing will be displayed. 


Event Details

  • Organizer/Sponsor: SBMM
  • Starts: April 6, 2017 5:30pm
  • Location: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum
  • Website: