Archive for the ‘oakland geology views’ Category

Oakland powerlines

7 January 2013

Oakland’s infrastructure includes two major powerlines across the hills. One starts from the 1922-vintage substation on Landvale Road (the Claremont Substation) and runs parallel to route 24. The other starts from the vintage substation at Park Boulevard and Grosvenor Place (Substation X) and runs up Indian Gulch, Dimond Canyon and Shepard Canyon. Both of them offer little islands of open land, secret parks, around the support structures.

This idyllic spot, photographed in November, overlooks Indian Gulch between Hollywood Avenue and Glendome Circle.

trestlepowerline

And here’s a view of the Claremont Substation and powerline just east of Lake Temescal, taken in October 2008. This bit of empty land can be reached from the top of Pali Court or by a scramble up from Broadway or another scramble down from the fire road past Swainland Reservoir.

claremontsubstation

Like geologists, powerline operators have a totally different view of the city than most people. I’m a little surprised there aren’t more powerlines here, but two is plenty. (A third, smaller one runs through Oakland lands up Strawberry Canyon from the Cal campus past Grizzly Peak.)

Walavista valley, 1916/1925

25 December 2012

I have found a new time sink at the Online Archive of California, where this photo of undeveloped Walavista Avenue, from 1916, is posted as part of this collection.

walavistavalley

The camera is on top of Warfield ridge, west of Lakeshore, just uphill from Fairbanks Avenue. The wooded gulch at back left is the charming little valley that Portal Avenue runs up, right at the Piedmont line. The Alameda Quarry, where Davies Tennis Stadium now sits, was just to its left, discreetly out of this developer’s portfolio photo.

Here’s roughly the same view in 1925. The view from there is still nice, but much more obstructed today.

walavista-1925

The street on the left is Arimo Avenue, running up the smallest of the ridges south of Lakeshore, and the ridge on the right is populated today by Balfour and Calmar avenues. It is fascinating to see this topography in its original form.

Tunnel approach

31 October 2012

I’ll be taking a tour of the new Caldecott Tunnel bore on Friday. This is the view of Route 24 from the ridge south of it, across from Hiller Highlands. Everything here is east of the Hayward fault.

great valley

On the right is uppermost Broadway, where a line of locals and advanced commuters chronically hope for a few seconds’ advantage by merging at the last second before the tunnel. I’ve decided that it’s faster to get in the left lane of 24 as soon as possible and stay there. Anyway, all the land from here to the far curve is underlain by rocks of the Great Valley Complex, of Late Cretaceous age. A fault separates it from the Sobrante Formation behind it, which is much younger. The lower part of the skyline ridge is Sobrante, but the high part is chert of the Claremont Shale. The tunnel penetrates both of those units, and I hope for a good look at it.

I was standing by the power line; you get to it by hiking down the road from the sports complex, on Broadway at the overcrossing, or by ducking around the gate at the top of Pali Court. The Great Valley here is a mix of fine-grained sedimentary rocks. Exposures are poor and the fabric is disrupted. Here’s an exposure on Pali Court.

great valley

And here’s a closeup from nearby.

It’s very shaly. The lenses of more siliceous stuff don’t add to its strength.

Fault valley

21 October 2012

October 21, not October 17, is Oakland’s real Earthquake Day. While many of us remember the 17th vividly, the day of the Loma Prieta quake in 1989, the morning of October 21, 1868 was when the original Great San Francisco Earthquake struck. It was on this side of the bay, on our own earthquake fault, and the ground cracked from Fremont all the way to the edge of this view from the end of Pali Court, in the neighborhood just across route 24 from Lake Temescal.

hayward fault valley

The Hayward fault runs from the notch on the skyline, which is in Montclair, to the right edge behind the house in the middle distance. This part of the fault, between Mills College and Lake Temescal, is the only place that has large areas of bedrock on both sides. What that means for the purposes of today’s post is that it’s the most rugged and picturesque part of the fault and has probably the greatest concentration of million-dollar homes.

Today I invite you to review this blog’s category “the hayward fault.” I seem to have rattled on at great length on this subject. Some day the fault will rattle all of us at great length.

Today’s Oakland Tribune has an article about newly mapped faults in the Hayward fault zone; I won’t link to it because the Trib’s links die quickly. But the new Alquist-Priolo zone map can be accessed here.

Calmar, Mandana, Longridge

7 October 2012

I’ve been exploring the surprisingly intricate topography between Lakeshore Avenue and Park Boulevard, where I count four separate ridges separated by three valleys. From the ground, it’s a challenge to visualize and photograph. This is the view across Mandana valley from the side of Calmar ridge, on Santa Ray Avenue, to Longridge.

longridge

I haven’t forgotten the blog, I’m just real busy. The weather lately has been superb for walking.

Linear scarps

1 September 2012

Next Saturday, 8 September, I’ll be leading a short, rugged urban walk for Oakland Urban Paths that among other things will visit these faceted spurs along the Hayward fault. Seen from the north . . .

view south

and from the south:

view north

The downhill side is moving north with respect to the near side. The open land in the foreground is the King Estates Open Space.

This will not be a stairway walk. The off-street passages are steep, weedy dirt paths that have not been maintained. The land along the fault is steep, making for nice residential view lots. I haven’t finished the route yet but it will take no more than 90 minutes, 10 to 11:30—I have a lunch destination I’m anxious to make. So I would like to set a good geologist’s pace. Details and questions as they come to you over at Oakland Urban Paths.

Lower Piedmont Park walk (#28)

10 August 2012

Walk number 28 in Charles Fleming’s Secret Stairs East Bay winds around the fine homes and hills of Piedmont along the valleys of Wildwood and Bushy Dell creeks. Here’s the route, shown on the Google Maps topo base.

walk 28 topo

The first and last part of the loop is in the watershed of Wildwood Creek while the rest is in the Bushy Dell Creek watershed. (They run down Lakeshore and Grand Avenues respectively, separated by Warfield ridge, and combine down at Lake Merritt where their names are sunk in bronze by the pergola.) Geologically, the walk covers the uppermost part of the big Pleistocene alluvial fan and the edge of the Franciscan bedrock block that underlies most of Piedmont.

geologic map

We start at the Lakeshore-Winsor split in the stream valley and make our way toward the divide. On Portsmouth Road the high ground of the bedrock zone stands out ahead.

At the far end is a steep climb to Wildwood Avenue, where we can look back across the stream valley to the ridge topped by Calmar Avenue, on the Oakland side of the city line.

Turning the other way, we look over the valley of Bushy Dell Creek. Once a large formal garden, this part of the valley was filled and leveled for its current use as a sports complex. It appears never to have been a quarry, unlike Dracena Park to the north or Davie Tennis Stadium to the south.

We turn upstream along the creek, where the land is relatively untouched. Just above this spot is the site of what was reputed as a sulfur spring.

The geologic setting doesn’t really give much support for the presence of a proper sulfur spring like the one in Walnut Creek, but after all this time the question is moot. Certainly I didn’t notice any odor. The grotto was very pleasant anyway, and there’s real bedrock all around. It’s mapped as Franciscan sandstone of the Novato Quarry terrane.

The route goes farther up and takes a loop past a pair of boulders.

Take a close look at these: they’re genuine Oakland-style blueschist, globs of old ocean crust that have been carried tens of kilometers down into the earth along a subduction zone, then spat back out, possibly more than once. (The details are at the bleeding edge of California geology.) The one boulder displays good color and mineralogy:

The other has some nice slickensides to show us.

Coming back downstream and past the baseball diamond, we pass the entrance to the football field. The view looks down the valley toward the lake and downtown.

Near here we can see more exposures of the sandstone bedrock, but soon afterward the route returns to the alluvial fan. The two substrates make subtly different topography, but that can be hard to see given the heavily landscaped landscape.

Palm Drive offers a picturesque farewell view of the Bushy Dell Creek valley.

Again we cross the divide between the two watersheds at Wildwood Avenue. The near valley is accentuated by glimpses of the higher hills.

I never get tired of this stuff.

Here’s the route in more detail.

route map


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