Parking for this earthcache is located either up on the bluff along PCH (free) or down by the shore in a paid parking lot.
Swimming is a requirement. The vents are in between 6 and 35 feet of water depending upon the tide and how far you want to go out. I was able to find the vent with mask and fins. This is a popular SCUBA diving area not only for the vents but also for the variety of sea life. Unfortunately, visability is typically poor.
The coordinates are the best available after swimming to the surface, so a little searching is required. Look for the white bacteria around cracks in the sea floor.
The mudstones of the area have been folded (See White Point Folding) into a series of parallel anticlines and synclines that trend roughly north-south. This folding apparently has cracked the rock forming joints for ground water to flow through. A seriesof vents can be found in a line along these folds.
The vents are best identified by a white bacteria that grows around them. When you get close you can see a shimmer in the water from the difference in temperature and feel the warm (~28 deg C) water. The sulfur smell you would have detected before you got in the water.
Water flow is actually variable. During high tides, water enters the shallower vents and then back out when the tide recedes. Antidoctal reports indicate increased flow following rain fall suggesting some water may come from the peninsula.
What warms the water remains a mystery. No detailed studies have been completed to identify the source of the heat.
These vents are important because they are so close to the surface. Most undersea hydrothermal vents are thousands of feet below sea level and emit super hot water. Here studies of the communities that develop around undersea vents can be studied with relative ease.
As a historical note, these vents were once tapped for a resort that was built at this site. In the 1950s an earthquake reduced the flow of the vents. The resort was later damaged and the owners taking off to an internment camp in World War II and the resort was left to decay. (See website for info).
Special thanks to Dodi Meister, the widow of Paul Meister, who made many research papers available to me. Paul successfully brought recreational divers and researchers together to improve off-shore research.
Send me a note with :
- The text "GC1576V White Point Hydrothermal Vents " on the first line
- The number of people in your group.
- estimate the length of one of the vents;
- estimate the amount of bacteria surrounding the vent;
- give the relative temperature difference between the water coming out of the vent and the surrounding water and water further away from the vent (not in the enclosed bay.)
The above information was compiled from the following sources:
- Michael Kleinschmidt and Richard Tschauder , SHALLOW-WATER HYDROTHERMAL VENT SYSTEMS OFF THE PALOS VERDES PENINSULA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, BIOL. SOC WASH. BULL. NO.6. 1985, pp. 48S-488