Pacific Coastal & Marine Science Center
Natural Oil & Gas Seeps in California
Seeps and Underground Oil Discoveries
Many historic discoveries of underground oil and gas in California were found by drilling in areas where surface seeps were already known. An explorationist would dig a tunnel or drill a well beneath the area where oil was trickling out of the ground, in the hope of penetrating a nearby, underground field. This simple strategy led to some of the earliest discoveries of oil and gas in California (such as the Newhall field, discovered in 1876), as well as some more recent finds (including the Livermore field, discovered in 1976).
The table below lists all of the state's oil and gas fields that were discovered in this way.