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May 22, 2012 > Earthquake Exhibit and Tours

Earthquake Exhibit and Tours

Submitted By Joyce Blueford

After two years in the making the Fremont Earthquake Exhibit is now open as part of public monthly tours offered through the City of Fremont Recreation.

The Hayward Fault is a major fault of concern in the East Bay. It has been considered the most dangerous area for a possible major seismic event by the U.S. Geological Survey. There is a one in three chance of a major earthquake of 6.8 or greater on the Hayward Fault within the next 30 years. The last major quake in this area was on October 21, 1868, with a magnitude of 7.0, which ripped almost a continuous shear of about 6 feet from Milpitas to Oakland.

The Math Science Nucleus in collaboration with the City of Fremont and the U.S. Geological Survey has created a one-of-a-kind exhibit in the country. You can actually see the damage caused by the Hayward Fault as it slowly "creeps" under the Fremont Community Center. The City of Fremont is providing the space; the U.S. Geological Survey provided a 22 ft map of the Hayward Fault, and the Math Science Nucleus, a non profit organization, will be managing the tours.

The Hayward Fault is one of a handful of faults in the world that is presently creeping. Fault creep, where a fault moves steadily at the surface (instead of staying locked by friction, like most faults), has many observable effects in the East Bay; it separates curbs and paving slabs, cracks asphalt and walls, and damages buildings. The rate of movement, around 5 mm per year, is enough to visibly move objects within a year or two. In this region there is about 3 miles that is exposed so people can actually walk along the trail and see these features. The faulted floor of the Community Center is a dramatic reminder.

The City of Fremont unknowingly built their first building in 1962, what is now referred to as the Fremont Community Center on the Hayward Fault. Over the years it has grown into a 1-2 inch offset. Within 10 years they noticed that the floor was cracking. They first thought that it was due to poor construction but then realized there was an offset to a set of cracks. Geologists and seismologists confirmed that the building was on the move due to the Hayward Fault. After 10 years, they had to close this area to the public.

The tour starts at the exhibit and walks toward the Senior Center to see offset curbs and compression ridges. The tour continues toward the Fremont Main Library and shows the different features of "creep." At the site of the old City Hall (removed because it was not earthquake safe), the tour continues on a subsurface trace of the fault that almost mirrors Lake Elizabeth's west shore.

This City of Fremont walled off 600 square feet including walls to help dramatize the science of earthquakes. The facility will be used not only for tours but for field trips for grades K-college by the Math Science Nucleus. The City of Fremont will also use the area when there are events in the park so people can look at exhibit. Volunteers and staff from the Math Science Nucleus will conduct the tours. The Math Science Nucleus staff has worked with scientists from the U. S. Geological Survey to create a large map of the East Bay. Visitors will be able to locate their house in relationship to the fault while looking over the "crack."

This exhibit is still evolving. Assemblyman Robert Wieckowski is helping the Math Science Nucleus locate possible funders especially to get damage photographs along the Hayward Fault. PGE has already contributed $5000 which helped pay for the installation of the map and carpeted display wall.

The plan includes installation of a creep meter to document the movement. There is also room for a shaker exhibit to stimulate the different types of earthquakes and other changing exhibits. People will come in one door and walk the 30 feet of the fault. We will install a way in which people will be able to "peep" in, when the exhibit is not formally open.

If interested in the Fremont Earthquake Exhibit please contact Joyce Blueford, Geologist at the Math Science Nucleus ( If interested in the Recreation Tours (next one is June 9) go to the following link for more information:

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