“Assembling California” – geology for fun

One afternoon, Richard Dale and I drove out to Pacifica, bought a copy of John McPhee’s “Assembling California” at a bookstore we found, and followed the directions to that park-that-was-once-a-dump off Highway 35/Skyline, back toward San Francisco.. Mussel Rock, caught between the two plates of the San Andreas Fault was right there, as advertized, and you can indeed see the vertical cracks at the spot the fault goes into the water… Its a neat place and I recommend it.

If you Google “Mussel Rock Pacifica” (Or “Mussel Rock Dump”, as it was when McPhee visited it,) Google Maps will take you right there, and its fun to zoom in and look at the rock from dead above. Even more amusing, zoom out, keeping an eye on the Rock, until you can see the Crystal Springs reseviors, which are, of course, directly ON the San Andreas Fault… and in a line with Mussel Rock.

Zoom out a bit more and you can extend that line up past Stinson Beach to Bolinas Lagoon, Olema, and the long, narrow, Tomales Bay… zoom out even more and you can see the rupture of the fault along the surface between Maricopa and Cuyama (or between Bakersfield and Santa Maria, if you like larger landmarks). The fault is easy to find- it crosses Highway 166/33 perpendicularly between Cuyama and Maricopa. The fault parallels Forest Highway 95 south of 166/33, and Soda Lake Road going north. Soda Lake is, of course, right on top of the fault.

In 1991, Richard and I drove throught that part of the world, and the fault was no problem to see there in that valley. Or whatever valley we were in- maybe not that one. I should find out. What’s better than a friend who takes you on a road trip to beautiful, wonderful, huge, stuff, when you’re own life seems wrecked?

When I turned 30, my friend Grace Godino sent me a card with a fellow mowing the grass around Stonehenge and inside she’d written “This thing is a lot older than you and it still looks great!“.

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One response to ““Assembling California” – geology for fun

  1. Are there any caves in northern California that are open to public exploration?

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