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July 6, 2010 > The Hayward Fault in Fremont

The Hayward Fault in Fremont

How it's moving, how we measure it, and why

By Katie York, Math Science Nucleus

Living in California has its perks, sunny weather and great beaches, gorgeous parks, and incredible landscapes; but the forces that helped shape this state to the glory of today can also bring its citizens to their knees in a matter of a few seconds: Earthquakes. While to many citizens the Loma Prieta Earthquake October 17, 1989 seem like a distant memory, and the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 is just something in history books. These events are not just in the past, they can give us clues to future earthquakes, if we study the signs.

Looking around Fremont you can see areas of uplifted sidewalks, cracks in the road, and houses being ripped apart from the inside out. These are not all indicators of poor construction, in certain cases they are evidence of earthquake fault creep. Fault creep is the slow surface movement caused by earthquake faults. The Hayward Fault demonstrates this beautifully through its length from Pinole to Fremont. Notable locations include the Cal Berkeley Football stadium and the former Hayward City Hall where you can see the damage caused by fault creep.

During the month of February,2009 Katie York, a staff member at the Math Science Nucleus, led student volunteers on a documentation project of the creep along the Hayward Fault. This project is part of a grant, in partnership with Dr. Gareth Funning of U.C. Riverside, to compare the accuracy of fault creep rates using ground monitoring and satellite monitoring. The Math Science Nucleus collects the ground pictures using a digital camera, tape measure, tripod and GPS equipment and Dr. Funning compares that data with Satellite data.

Starting Saturday July 24, 2010 Katie York will lead another group of students to collect a second set of data from the Fremont Area. Sites we will be monitoring include the area around Niles, the Fremont BART station and through central park, and around Agua Caliente Park in the Wiebel area. This is part of a three year project to train students to go out and take detailed images of the Hayward fault creep.

Interested students should contact Katie York by email at or call 510-790-6284 for more information.

Why study the fault:

Areas along the Hayward fault move around 5mm per year, those areas that do not move are considered "locked." These "locked" areas can give seismologists clues to areas where earthquakes are likely due to an accumulation of strain. The last large earthquake on the Hayward Fault was in 1868 and caused considerable damage. It is estimated that in the next few decades there could be a large earthquake along the Hayward fault. Studying the creep rate is necessary to make more accurate predictions for the location of a large quake and allow citizens, the public utilities, and city governments prepared for the worst.

Not all faults experience fault creep, the San Andreas Fault located on the other side of the Bay does not move at the surface. Why? Dr. Gareth Funning from U.C Riverside will explain at 7p.m. on Friday, July 23 at Tule Ponds at Tyson Lagoon (1999 Walnut Ave, Fremont).

This talk will review some of the key evidence of fault creep, how geophysicists measure it using radar satellites, GPS equipment, and other survey techniques. See the process that Katie York is using with students to collect the data in Fremont and what is done with the data.

After the talk there will be a tour of Tule Ponds at Tyson Lagoon available. Space is limited to 35 people and this talk is intended for adults and children 12 and up. There is a suggested donation of $2 per person. To reserve your space please email Laurey Hemengway, Educational Director, or call 510-790-6284.

Earthquake talk for ages 12 and up:
Friday, July 23 at 7 p.m., at 1999 Walnut Ave. Fremont Call 510-790-6284 to reserve your space.

Earthquake monitoring days:
Saturday, July 24, at 9 a.m. meet at 1999 Walnut Ave; Monday July 26 at 9 a.m. meet at Agua Caliente Park at the corner of Grimmer and Gardenia; Tuesday July 27 at 9 a.m. meet at the small park on School St. in Niles. Contact Katie York at to sign up.

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