Archive for the ‘oakland geology views’ Category

Grizzly Peak

20 December 2014

Grizzly Peak is the highest point in Oakland, at 1754 feet elevation (sources differ). As you approach it on Grizzly Peak Boulevard, it seems to loom quite high.

grizpeak1

That’s an illusion caused by the eucalyptus forest. As you get closer, you start to see through the trees.

grizpeak2

And from the bay side, the peak has a mohawk look because the trees are stripped off its northern half.

There’s a vague trail up the south side. Even in its true contours, Grizzly Peak is a steep little climb, and the thick layer of leaves is slippery. I’d rather the eucalyptus trees weren’t here, but they do offer a lovely privacy.

grizpeak3

And underfoot are rocks! The peak is mapped as the Moraga Formation, a set of lava flows from 9 to 10 million years old. This is the stuff connected to the volcano at Round Top.

grizpeak4

The top of the peak has a broadcasting tower of some sort, with a fenced-in support building at its foot. There used to be a lookout tower here, and a benchmark nearby attested to its elevation. Mount Diablo is almost exactly due east—not that you can see it through the damn eucalyptus.

You could walk up the access road instead. Either way, you can’t get any closer to the peak per se than this.

grizpeak5

That route offers nice views, and it takes you past a lot of broken rock, if you have your heart set on a specimen.

grizpeak6

Most of the rock is like this—weathered and fractured. There’s no easy way to tell what causes the strong layering, as this rock has been tilted almost vertical and then eroded by the fog, rain and earthquakes of the Berkeley Hills.

grizpeak7

It’s hard to expose unaltered bits. What’s there is a medium-gray, featureless stone that geologists typically call andesite until they can study it in the lab.

Grizzly Peak is not a place to stay long, but it seems that there are those who love it.

grizpeak8

Emeryville

9 October 2014

The little town of Emeryville has almost no geology that passers-by would recognize. On the geologic map it’s displayed as largely artificial land and coastal alluvium.

emeryvillemap

The only people who see these things are builders and the geological professionals who advise them with their foundations.

The point was made from scratch—the original shore was a straight line pretty much where the railroad is now. Out at the end it’s been prettied up into Marina Park, a simulacrum of a wooded meadow. I like it there.

e-ville-point

A seawall, made of typical Franciscan riprap, protects it from the mild surf that manages to get here through the Golden Gate.

marinapark

The park-y part of Marina Park offers great views of Berkeley and points north. This is a good place to test your knowledge of the geography: Can you point out Strawberry Canyon, for instance. The highest point in this picture is Grizzly Peak.

e-ville-sculpture

We aren’t making any more artificial land in the Bay area, thank goodness. For a while there, people were planning to fill the whole Bay in. The nice thing about artificial land is that we can feel free to decorate it, whether formally as here or informally as at the Albany Bulb.

Manzanita ridge

28 April 2014

The ridge traversed by Manzanita Drive is one of Oakland’s highest residential areas, higher than 1400 feet. It’s the home-studded rise in the Oakland skyline to the right of Round Top in the blog’s banner image. Here’s the topographic view, from Google Maps:

manz-ridge-topo

. . . and here’s the matching part of the geologic map:

manz-ridge-geo

The ridge crest is held up by the Claremont Chert (Tcc), while Skyline Boulevard and Arrowhead Drive, running parallel just to its south, go through the crumbly Sobrante Formation (Tsm). (The other formations are the Orinda Formation, Tor, and the unnamed Eocene sandstone of upper Shepard Canyon, Tes.) Here’s the chert exposed at the west end of Manzanita; it and the next two photos click bigger.

Click for 800-pixel version

The views are terrific. Here’s the view north over the Huckleberry saddle to the smaller ridge of Claremont Chert that Elverton Drive skirts.

Click for 1000-pixel version

The middle of Manzanita offers fine views of Round Top.

Click for 800-pixel version

And the other end of Manzanita, past the unexpected Hills Swim & Tennis Club, is another saddle at the top of Shephard Canyon where the road to Canyon and Moraga crosses the hills.

skyline-shep-pinehurst-saddle

More than anywhere else in Oakland, this is an island in the sky.

Fruitvale Station vista

24 March 2014

Sometimes the weather is clear enough, but just hazy enough, to reveal the details of the landscape for quite some distance. A week ago the view down the line from the Fruitvale BART station looked like this.

fruitvalestationview450

I know it’s a small image, so click on it for an annotated 1000-pixel version. Most of the view extends beyond Oakland city limits. The farthest peaks are in the Ohlone Wilderness east of San Jose, some 30 miles away. Once you become familiar with our skyline, it’s never boring.

Lower Colton

31 January 2014

You may think of Snake Road as the ridge road that climbs the crest between Thornhill and Shepherd canyons, but it’s really Colton Boulevard. For a quiet hike above Montclair with views, you want Colton. Its lower part runs north of Snake across ground underlain by the Redwood Canyon Formation. Here’s a roadside outcrop.

colton-Kr

I didn’t even notice the parallel fractures until I opened the photo at home. They probably represent a bit of extra cementation, thanks to a late pulse of fluids, but they may also be original bedding.

I mentioned views. If you loop around Mendoza and Mazuela Drives you can view some immaculate houses and grounds, but I like the big empty lot on Mazuela that overlooks Pinehaven canyon; click it for the bigger version.

mazuelaview450

Huckleberry saddle

18 November 2013

The entrance to Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve is at a low point in the spine of the Oakland Hills, where the steep eastern arm of Thornhill canyon has cut headward toward the equally steep canyon of San Leandro Creek. Both canyons are steep because the rock between them is the tough Claremont chert. The saddle between the two canyons provides good views to the west and east, and a little path (labeled Huckleberry Path on the map) leads north from the Huckleberry entrance, a private entrance to the preserve for the residents of Elverton Drive. That’s where I got these pictures, first looking southwest toward downtown:

elvrtn-lakemerit

and due west, over the opposite wall of Thornhill canyon, toward the Golden Gate.

elvrtn-ggate

Turn around, and it’s just a few steps to find these views of the Las Trampas Ridge area—

elvrtn-trampas

—and Mount Diablo, which never ceases to surprise me when I see it from Oakland. I think of Diablo as a whole different domain, reachable only by a drive through the tunnel and not visible west of Lafayette. But here it is, looking downright neighborly.

elvrtn-diablo

Only a few Oaklanders get to see the view east; we’re a westward-leaning city.

The Oakmore block

7 November 2013

The Oakmore district is quite a distinct part of town. Here’s how its geology makes it so. I’ll call it the Oakmore block, although that’s a bit of a misnomer—it’s the eastern end of the Piedmont block.

oakmore-geomap

The neighborhood is defined by the light blue of Franciscan sandstone of the Novato Quarry terrane, bounded by three canyons. The canyon on the northeast side is occupied by Route 13, of course, which corresponds to the Hayward fault. Here’s the view across it, looking east from the easternmost corner of the Oakmore block (the end of Braemar Road) to Joaquin Miller Park. The top of the grassy slope is the overlook at Lookout Point.

joaquinview

Dimond Canyon on the west is the most dramatic boundary, but the bedrock is the same on both sides; there is some accident of geologic history that has maintained this deep streamcut. Leimert Boulevard defines that side of the neighborhood. Roadcuts about midway up Leimert expose a lot of strong sandstone like this.

leimertcrop

And on the southeast is an unsung stream valley cut along the edge of the Piedmont block. Whittle creek, I guess I’d call it, because Whittle Avenue runs up it, and the Head-Royce School is nestled in it. The valley grows into a nice amphitheater at its head. This is the view from there—the end of Melvin Road—across to the Greek cathedral and Mormon temple. Lincoln Avenue is the ridge road on the other side of this valley.

oakmore-temples

Over here I see more shaly bedrock, like this stuff exposed on uppermost Fruitvale Avenue . . .

oakmore-shale

. . . and bit more structure here where Wrenn Street meets Hoover Avenue.

oakmore-wrenn-hoover

All of this is expected in the Franciscan. The odd bit I haven’t figured out is near the end of Melvin, which looks to the naked eye like a volcaniclastic rock. Perhaps the boundary on the geologic map is a little off.

oakmore-volc

All I know is that when you take your eyes off the ground and look off toward the Bay, Oakmore is a mighty fine place.

oakmore-view

I don’t know exactly where the realtors put the southern line, but the dotted-line contact running from Sausal Creek along Whittle, marking the hidden thrust fault at the edge of the hills and the bedrock alike, works for me.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,308 other followers