The heat is rising from deep inside the Earth and for awhile no one could even guess what the 812 degree F surface temps meant or even what caused the hotspot. Now geologists think they know.
Allen King, a retired geologist with the U.S. Forest Service who went to the site Friday, said the smoking ground is "a normal occurrence" that does not appear to be the result of human activity.Or maybe it's SATAN!
The hot spot is in an area considered to be an active landslide that has shifted for more than 60 years. Several hundred feet below its cracked surface lie pockets of gas, tar and oil.
King said he suspects cracks along the landslide's slope allow oxygen to enter into the earth and hydrocarbon material to "seep out" of the fine-grain shale. The combination can create underground combustion, he said.
King said the depth at which hydrocarbon material can be found "varies tremendously" and that he does not know at what depth the combustion in the oil field is occurring. The 812-degree temperature was measured Friday about a foot below the surface, he said. No other temperature checks have been made since, according to Oatman.
During Friday's visit to the hot spot, smoke rose through five cracks in the ground. From a distance, it looked like "a small, smoldering camp fire," Oatman said. The smoke comes and goes, he said, and fire officials expect it will last until the next heavy rainfall, when water and mud plug the fissures.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.