SoCal’s La Brea Tar Pits Named Among Top 100 Geological Heritage Sites

La Brea Tar Pits. Photo via

It may look like nothing more than a big oil slick or a river of mud, but La Brea Tar Pits has been selected as one of the most important geoheritage sites by the International Union of Geological Sciences. , an organization representing more than one million geoscientists worldwide. the world, it was announced Thursday.

The official announcement will take place next month at the UISG conference in Zumaia, Spain. A designation similar to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the UISG 100 Geological Heritage Sites represent key locations with geological features and/or processes of international scientific significance, the organization said.

The Brea Tar Pits has been identified by IUGS as the richest Pleistocene – Ice Age – fossil site on earth, and as the key paleontological site that shaped the understanding of this period for scientists and the public.

“Beloved by Angelenos and known for capturing the imagination and inspiring pop culture from current television series La Brea to animated Ice Age films, La Brea Tar Pits is a one-of-a-kind site for scientific research on the past with important data for understanding climate change in our time,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, President and Director of Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County, who oversees La Brea Tar Pits as field site and active museum.

“This acknowledgment from the international scientific community is recognition of La Brea’s gifts to science and the hard work of paleontologists, preparators and volunteers during his more than 100 years of research and excavations,” he said. she declared.

La Brea Tar Pits is the world’s only ongoing Ice Age urban excavation where fossils are discovered, prepared, researched and displayed in one location.

Outside, visitors can observe the discovery of faunal fossils trapped in the seeps. Inside the museum, scientists and volunteers clean, repair, identify and study the fossils. The best specimens are on display and all are available for research: from saber-toothed cats, giant sloths, giant wolves, mammoths and mastodons – to microfossils of small animals and plants.

A planned expansion of the 13-acre Tar Pits campus has been underway since 2019, when NHMLAC, through a public competition, selected architecture firm Weiss/Manfredi to create a master plan to improve facilities. research and collections space, expand the exhibits and unify the different elements of the site – the Lake Pit, the tar pits, the lawn and the museum of La Brea Tar Pits.

“The La Brea Tar Pits reimagining plan aims to demystify the science and seize this opportunity to educate visitors about the impacts of climate change, then and now,” Bettison-Varga said.

–City News Service

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