Geology

The San Francisco Bay Area’s crazy quilt-pattern of rock formations — shaped by earthquakes — are the key to understanding the region’s landscapes. From ice-age dune sand in San Francisco to recently subsided land in the Santa Clara Valley or the veritable maze of earthquake faults in the East Bay, the geology is a fascinating blueprint of the region’s natural history.

Latest from Geology

Letter from the Publisher

July 01, 2010 by David Loeb

This issue of Bay Nature rocks!

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School of Rock

July 01, 2010 by Erik Vance

Berkeley native Erik Vance first encountered the rocks of the East Bay hills as a teenager looking for excitement. For a century, geologists at UC Berkeley have used them to teach geologic mapping, in the process unraveling the complex geology of our hills. And for decades pioneering rock climbers learned techniques here that they took with them to the Sierra and beyond.

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Stories in Stone

July 01, 2010 by Doris Sloan

You'll find some of Central California's most remarkable rocks at this state park on the Sonoma coast. Here, waves, fault lines, and changes in sea level have left sublime stories written into the landscape.

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Upscale Wilderness

April 01, 2010 by Gregory Hayes

Napa's Palisades are rugged, beautiful, and about as wild as it gets in the Bay Area. And with the wildflowers in bloom, spring is high season for a great hike above the vineyards.

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Climbing the Waves at Castle Rock State Park

January 01, 2010 by Paul McHugh

The high ridges and sandstone outcrops at Castle Rock have fascinated adventurers from explorer George Vancouver to the pioneers of modern rock climbing. Prolific wildflowers, great views, and an 80-foot waterfall add to the allure.

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What is quicksand?

October 01, 2009 by Michael Ellis

The quicksand won't get you, but the quakes might.

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Walking the Line

October 01, 2008 by Horst Rademacher

It was 140 years ago, in October 1868, that the Hayward Fault unleashed the magnitude 6.8 temblor that put the fault on the map. The quake shook the entire region and virtually leveled the then-small hamlets of Hayward and San Leandro. Now, the land along the fault line is among the most densely populated in the region, a sobering situation given the likelihood of a repeat performance in the near future. But despite their destructive potential, the Hayward and the Bay Area’s other faults are the driving force behind our region’s varied and beautiful topography. Understanding how they work is key both to understanding our local landscapes and to preparing for the next Big One.

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The Keeper of the Waters

July 01, 2008 by Cindy Spring

Gayle Ciardi, the first woman to serve as a watershed keeper for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, is the fourth-generation of her family to work on the SFPUC watershed.

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The Saved and the Dammed

July 01, 2008 by Sarah Sweedler

For better and worse, the upper reach of the Pilarcitos watershed on the Peninsula was dammed to supply water to San Francisco in the 1860s. The surrounding land has been protected and kept off-limits to the public ever since, allowing rare species to thrive here. That includes the marbled murrelet, which nests only in old-growth conifers, such as Douglas fir. But the dam and other impacts also leave less water in the creek for oceangoing steelhead. Now, a diverse group of stakeholders has come together to chart a brighter future for the fish and the creek.

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Black Coal, Bright Flowers

April 01, 2008 by Horst Rademacher

The peaceful hills of Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve weren't always so: One hundred twenty years ago, you'd have found bustling towns full of miners and their families and, nearby, the mine works and railroads that carried out tons of coal and sand, feeding the booming industries of Northern California. Today, the park offers grand vistas, abundant wildflowers, and a mine tour that gives an illuminating view of both the work of the miners and the geological history that brought them here and shaped the aboveground landscape.

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