What lies beneath

A very large but otherwise uninteresting depression in the ground — or so we thought…

Earlier this month I posted about the Dragon’s Nose at the Stornetta Public Lands near Point Arena and mentioned some “mysterious” holes we found there. It’s taken me awhile to get around to my followup post, partly because of a technical problem (more on that later). I’ve also been trying to find any documentation of these particular holes but so far haven’t had much luck. I feel like there must be more info out there, so I’ll keep looking.

We discovered a number of manhole-sized holes along the bluffs purely by accident, all within roughly the same area along the cliffs south of the lighthouse. One was clearly marked off with caution markers; you can be sure we steered clear of it although at the time we weren’t at all clear on precisely what it was.

But not long after that we came upon the second such feature — it was not marked in any way — which we soon started calling “the blow hole.” It was both fascinating and a bit scary, and I decided I absolutely had to record some video. (And now the technical problem:) Unfortunately, rather than using my phone, I shot the initial video with my small Fujifilm camera. When I got home later I realized the video was sideways, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out a good way to rotate it! My solution isn’t very elegant, but it will have to do until I can return to the site and get some better video.

Still shot of “the blow hole”

Note that the air coming from the hole sounds a bit like Darth Vader’s breathing although the noises come intermittently, at unpredictable intervals; sometimes they’re very soft, and other times they’re much stronger and nearly as loud as a jet airplane! You might also notice in the zoomed-out view, that the safety markers surrounding hole number 1 are visible in the background.

I returned the next day, determined to get a better video, using my phone this time. However, unlike the day before which had been cloudy and calm, now the skies were clear and the wind was gusting; of course, the noise picked up on the video, but luckily you can still hear the blow hole sounds. As I was shooting this nearly 4-minute video, waiting impatiently for the vent to “breathe,” I got a little bored; I panned to the right to show the third hole, although it’s too far away to see very well. Then I panned to the left and pointed with my finger to the spot where the Big Guy was fishing before finally returning back to the main focus of my interest.

Even though I’ve referred to these fascinating features as “mystery holes,” these vents are not all that mysterious when you examine the wider picture. Take a look at what lurks just below the area where we found the blow hole:

The gully with the blow hole is just visible at top left

The so-called blow hole was the only one that seemed to be making any noise; but we did notice another somewhat creepy hole in the ground; it was at the bottom of the huge depression which you can see in my top two photos. This hole, much larger than the vents, was only visible from east, looking west toward the cliffs and the ocean. As you might imagine, after what we had seen and heard of the other holes, we had no real desire to descend into the depression for a closer look at this very big black hole!

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