Scientists: San Francisco’s Hayward Fault a ‘tectonic time bomb’

Scientists:  San Francisco’s Hayward Fault a ‘tectonic time bomb’

Cutting a direct path through the East Bay hills, the Hayward Fault is the San Andreas Fault’s less-celebrated sibling. Yet it’s a seismic threat the U.S. Geological Survey has described as ‘a tectonic time bomb’ — ready to rupture — bringing devastation to the Bay Area.

Now, scientists at UC Berkeley hope to get a jump on the fault’s next big move.

The last major quake on the Hayward Fault was in the mid-1800s, before the region became packed with properties worth an estimated $1.5 trillion.

The fault has been pretty quiet since that 6.8 magnitude event but, today, a shaker that strong could buckle Interstate 80, I-880 and partially collapse the Caldecott Tunnel — even damaging the supposedly quake-resilient new eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

Look close and you can see signs of the slow creep of the Hayward Fault all around the East Bay. …

The Hayward Fault runs directly across the UC Berkeley campus allowing scientists to put a seismometer right next to it, in an old mining tunnel under the school known as the Lawson Adit. With such devices in such proximity to the action, they hope can get a picture of how the earth is moving on both sides of the fault.

As Hellwig explains, “the Lawson Adit, the old mine, is actually fairly secluded and, hopefully, a very quiet place for our equipment. So, hopefully, when the Hayward Fault starts moving — or maybe before — we can hear it doing something, getting ready.”

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