Photograph of a large oil and gas rig off the coast of Santa Barbara. The Coastal Range is visible in the background above the waves.

Seafloor Mounds Peer Review

OST conducted a peer review process to ensure that seafloor mounds generated from now-decommissioned oil and gas platforms are managed responsibly.

Protecting Santa Barbara Waters through Scientific Collaboration

The California State Lands Commission (the Commission) administers leases related to oil and gas operations located in and adjacent to the state’s waterways, beaches, and coastline. When four oil and gas platforms (“4H Platforms”) were decommissioned and removed from the Santa Barbara Channel in the mid-1990s, each left behind a mound of byproducts from drilling operations which over time became covered with sediment and shells. The Commission is in the process of determining whether Chevron, the lease holder, has met the lease obligations, which include a proposal to keep the 4H shell mounds in place in their current configuration, unless otherwise specified. To inform its decision, the Commission has produced a report summarizing impacts to public trust resources that could occur if the mounds are left in place. The Commission partnered with Ocean Science Trust to lead a peer review process that assessed the scientific merits of the report to ensure that the decision is guided by sound science.

Leading a Rigorous Scientific Review Process

To meet the Commission’s needs, OST implemented a scientific review process that promotes objectivity, transparency, candor, efficiency and scientific rigor. A multidisciplinary four-member review committee was assembled that represents diverse expertise in oceanography, marine toxicology, ecology and seismic activity. Reviewers will remain anonymous until public release of the review and report to encourage candid feedback.

Review Outcomes

The final summary report will be delivered to the Commission in summer 2023 and will be publicly available on this webpage shortly after.

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