Pitch Lake (English Pitch Lake, bitumen lake) is a lake consisting of pure liquid asphalt (bitumen), located in the southwest of the island of Trinidad near the village of La Brea.
It has an area of about 40 hectares and a depth of about 80 m. Asphalt reserves are estimated at more than 6 million tons, tens of thousands of which are mined every year. At the current level of production, the lake will be a renewable source of asphalt for 400 years.
This world's largest reservoir of natural asphalt was discovered by Walter Raleigh in 1595, who immediately found a use for it - bitumen was used to grind the wooden hulls of ships. On his second expedition to Trinidad, Walter Raleigh decided to transport natural asphalt for the construction of Westminster Bridge, which was timed to coincide with the opening of the Houses of Parliament.
True, during the transportation, part of the natural material simply melted, pretty dirtying the horses. Now it is a tourist attraction, which is visited by about 20 thousand people a year. In addition, high-quality asphalt is mined from the lake, which is exported.
The Peach Lake Formation is associated with a deep fault in combination with a subduction zone beneath the Caribbean Plate in the Barbados Islands region. A complete study of the lake has not been carried out, but it is assumed that, being on the border of two faults, the lake is replenished with oil from below. The lighter constituents of the oil evaporate, leaving heavier fractions. In fact, natural asphalt is nothing more than a mixture of clay, water and oil. According to legend, on the place where the lake is located, there was a settlement of the Chima tribe. After defeating an enemy tribe, the Indians held a feast, where they ate a large number of the sacred hummingbird birds, forgetting that according to legends they are the spirits of their ancestors.
As punishment, the gods opened the earth and summoned a lake of tar, which swallowed up the entire village and its inhabitants. The surface of the lake is elastic and oily, in the depths something is constantly boiling and happening. One of the known properties of bituminous pits is their ability to absorb objects, which can then be discovered after millennia. At Peach Lake, several Native American objects were found, fragments of the skeleton of a giant sloth that lived in the Pleistocene, a mastodon tooth. In 1928, a tree rose from the depths of the lake, the age of which was estimated at 4 thousand years. Before it slowly sank back, a saw cut was made from it. Peach Lake is one of the naturally formed bituminous pits. Similar objects can also be found in Venezuela, California and elsewhere. The area around Peach Lake is rather unremarkable and consists of dozens of hectares of gray-brown mud. On the surface of the lake, there are “islets of land” - small islands on which small, frail trees somehow grow.
You cannot swim in this lake. There is no fish in it. Almost the entire surface of the lake is so solid that even an adult can walk on it. This is what most tourists enjoy. Although this activity is quite interesting, it is extremely dirty! However, some places may seem strong only in appearance, and you risk falling knee-deep, or even waist-deep into the black "waters" of Peach Lake. Despite the fact that the surface of the lake is relatively strong and resilient, something is constantly boiling in its depths. Thick waves slowly spread over the surface of the lake, and sometimes the bitumen in Peach Lake begins to seethe and bubble. As mentioned above, asphalt from Lake Pich-Lake is mined mainly for export.
The industrial development of the resources of the mountain lake began in 1867. For all the time, about 10 million tons of asphalt were mined, the raw materials were used to build high-quality road surfaces not only in Trinidad and Tobago, but also on other islands of the Caribbean. In addition, the asphalt mined at Peach Lake has paved the streets of more than fifty countries, including the United States of America, England, India, Singapore, Egypt and Japan. For example, the Pall Mal alley in London, leading to Buckingham Palace, is paved with just this natural asphalt from the amazing Lake Trinidad.