About this Journal

I am Andy R. Datlen, of Berkeley, California. I am writing about my walks on, around, and across the Hayward Earthquake Fault where it runs along the base of the hills through Berkeley, just about a mile from my house. In the San Francisco Bay area everybody talks about the “big one”, meaning a huge earthquake, but, like the weather, nobody does anything about it.

Actually, that’s not quite true. Public agencies have gone to tremendous lengths to develop emergency preparedness plans,  and have worked together to assemble the equipment and supplies which will be needed after it happens. Many companies and private individuals have done extensive retrofitting work to try to make our offices and homes less vulnerable to the coming disaster.

But when you look at the situation realistically, and think about what has been done compared to the enormity of the effects of the imminent disaster, you will be very scared. At any rate, you should be.  

I am not a seismologist, and have no formal training in earthquake science or emergency preparedness, but I have read extensively about the geology and history of earthquakes in the San Francisco Bay area. In the last couple of years I have studied the Hayward Fault in particular, especially the part that runs through Berkeley. I am quite frightened.

At least five times in the past few months we have had a small shaker (between 3 and 4) on or near the Hayward Fault, usually in the hills around Piedmont or Montclair, enough to rock the office chair that I am sitting in back and forth as I write this journal. We have also had a couple of bigger ones (a little over 5) on the Calaveras Fault near San Jose, which has recently been found to be connected to the Hayward Fault deep underground.

The official “party line” espoused by the geologists at the United States Geological Survey is approximately a thirty percent chance of a 6.7 or greater on the Hayward fault within the next thirty years. But that keeps changing. And it keeps getting worse. I am going to stick my neck out and predict a 7.0 or greater temblor on the Hayward Fault within the next ten years. If you disagree, leave a response below. 

The fact of the matter is that the Hayward Fault last split open like a broken zipper exactly 140 years ago on October 21, 1868. Archaeological digs have found the evidence that the average interval between the last five earthquakes on the Hayward Fault is 140 years. What does that tell me? That it could be tomorrow, or next week, or next year, or almost certainly within the next ten.

Tha Hayward Fault where it runs through Berkeley is completely urbanized, with homes, playgrounds, offices, and a University sitting right on top of it. Unless you know what you are looking for, there is little evidence that it is there. This journal is intended to document what it looks like now, because what it looks like after the earthquake may be very different.


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