The Rose Canyon Fault in San Diego

Out & About

My wise old grandmother helped me start my very first company way back in 1966. It was a typing business. While my friends were out mowing lawns, pulling weeds, and washing cars, I was typing papers for students at Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas.

Eventually I diversified my services so that, in addition to typing, I was proofing papers for spelling errors and poor grammar, and eventually even researching, writing, and typing term papers for those college students.

The first term paper I ever wrote was for a sophomore at Texas A&I. I was only 13, but I (he) got a B+ on that paper! I don’t know if that says something good about me or something bad about the standards of his English class at college.

Nonetheless, the paper was on earthquakes, and ever since then I have always been fascinated by earthquake.

I was at home in College Station, Texas, watching the 1989 World Series when the earthquake hit San Francisco.

Five years later, I was living in San Diego when the Northridge earthquake hit in Los Angeles, with the epicenter just a few hundred feet from where my oldest uncle and his family lived. Their kitchen was separated from the house by a few feet, and the house got red-flagged by the City as uninhabitable.

Although there are a lot of faults that run through the San Diego area, major earthquakes here are few and far between. Hmmmm. Maybe it’s time………

The last earthquake I felt here was the Easter 2010 earthquake in Brawley, Baja California, Mexico. That’s only sixty miles due east of me. It was magnitude 7.2, and virtually destroyed Mexicali and Calexico. The shaking here lasted for about 25 seconds, but no damage. Just a really frightened Zoey the Cool Cat.

Earthquake experts eventually expect a fairly good-sized earthquake to occur here in San Diego on the Rose Canyon Fault:

Southern California showing Rose Canyon Fault

According to those experts, the Rose Canyon Fault has the potential to unleash a 7.5 earthquake. Since the fault goes right underneath downtown San Diego, when it happens, I’m sure it will be “the big one” as far as San Diegans are concerned.

Most of the fault zones in San Diego are not visible on the surface, making them of little interest to someone like me. However, if you go to the Tecolote Recreation Center, you can see very good evidence of the Rose Canyon Fault, as well as a pretty cool sign explaining what you are looking at.

Location of rose canyon fault

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photograhic art taking pictures making art

Rose Canyon Fault Zone

photograhic art taking pictures making art

Here is the “50 million year old Eocene sandstone of the Scripps Formation”:

Eocene sandstone of the Scripps Formation

photograhic art taking pictures making art

The houses are built right on top of that sandstone formation. As a home inspector, I suspect their foundation pillars probably go pretty deep.

Here is the “half-million year old Pleistocene conglomerate” :

Half-million year old Pleistocene conglomerate in Rose Canyon

photograhic art taking pictures making art

Pine trees seem to love the Pleistocene conglomerate.

Between the two formations is “a major strand of the Rose Canyon Fault” but you would never know it because it looks like this:

Rose Canyon Fault

Would you let your children play baseball there if you knew it was smack dab on top of what is considered San Diego’s most active and dangerous fault zone?

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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35 thoughts on “The Rose Canyon Fault in San Diego

  1. Amy Reese

    Fascinating. Earthquakes have always fascinated me, growing up in Southern California. We drove a major highway that had a major fault line beneath it. I think the San Andreas.

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  2. babso2you

    There is a fault line on the island of Manhattan. Con Edison, the power company, wanted to put an energy plant on a site that they have in Manhattan. Turns out a fault line went right through the center of the land. So what did they do? They put in a park for kids to play in rather than build the plant.

    I was a participant of the October 27th, 1989 earthquake that struck Loma Prieta was a 7.2 magnitude. I lived on the third floor of a condominium complex. The world series was about to start. It was 5:02 p.m. I was talking to my sister on the phone. She felt it first and yelled at me to run to a doorway. As I started running to that doorway, the building shook. I watched the pine trees from that doorway move from left to right and back over and over again, listened to the booming noise of it, and then heard dead silence once it was done. My Popeye and Olive Oyl music box had fallen over as well as other things in my house. I heard the song “Popeye the Sailor Man” in the quiet and it was eerie. We had an aftershock 2 1/2 hours later that was over 6.0 magnitude. Well maybe I should save the rest of the story for a blog…

    Be prepared in the event that you do have an earthquake. As the land moves you will feel it, and it is indeed scary! It might only be 15-20 seconds, but that will be the longest 15-20 seconds you will feel in your life! Have water and food, including a way to cook it, because you could be without electricity for quite a while.

    Hugs and be well! ^..^

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I was hoping I’d get some good comments about earthquakes and you didn’t let me down!

      My last roommate from my Texas A&M days was living in Campbell and working for Advanced Micro Devices. He was off that week, and he and his wife went to the mountains. Guess where they were? Yep. Loma Prieta. The earthquake cut off Highway 17 so they were stuck in the mountains. As Jeff told me when I finally got hold of him a week later, “We were going to be out there a week anyway so no big deal.”…….LOL

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      1. babso2you

        Wow! The thing is that when you are close to a fault line, it is a hard rapid shake. The farther away you are, the more it rolls and you feel it a lot more, and the damage is worse!

        My husband and I had the most surreal experience camping at Silver Lake in the Sierra Nevada range. We were there when the Twin Towers were hit, the Pentagon was hit, and the plane went down in PA…Another story maybe for how unreal it was!

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  3. laurie27wsmith

    You can actually say these pictures have serious faults in them Russel. There goes your hope of more good comments. 😉 Seriously now, in 1961 we had emigrated to Australia from the UK and we were living in a WW2 army camp turned migrant hostel. The igloo huts were pretty basic and we had bunk beds. I had the top one and at 7.02am the hut rose up, dropped down and I was flung out of the bunk. Not something I’d like to do again. Last year we had an earth tremor here and although we didn’t feel anything move there was an electric, tingly feeling running through the body. It felt like being between two big magnets.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      The Easter Earthquake here just left everything wobbling and shaking. I have a lot of pictures on the walls, all with earthquake proof hanging, but they still wobble and make a lot of noise.

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  4. Gallivanta

    Well, you know my story. Today I went in to the central city to see how the rebuild is going. The answer is slowly and I don’t recognise my city at all, even 4 years after the first big quake. There is plenty of footage on youtube and it still horrifies me to look at it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB_7pH1DFa8 The fault that started the earthquake series was previously unknown.

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      1. Gallivanta

        There are lots of videos. Some are from news reports and some are amateur footage. There are some interesting ones on liquefaction. This is probably my favourite because it is cheerful

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          I just spent the last 90 minutes watching videos of the Christchurch Earthquake, 1989 World Series Earthquake, 1994 Northridge Earthquake, and the Japanese and Indian Ocean tsunamis. All because of you!……..LOL

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  5. sirfelion

    I have not been in a quake. I was here in FL when Tropical Storm Fay dumped 26 inches of rain in less than 2 days. Water came up to close to the door, before receding. Here in FL we have the hurricane dangers. A bad hurricane can destroy everything like an earthquake, so we keep an eye on the weather news. Since Fay, FL has dodged a bad storm. Interesting on the typing job as a kid. I wish I had thought of that! Though I did not take typing class until Jr. in high school. College was more rigorous in the 1960’s English-wise, so I think the term paper grade was a big reflection on you, not the school.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      I grew up along the Gulf Coast in Texas so I’m quite familiar with those hurricanes, having been through Beulah, Celia, Allen, Alicia, Bonnie, and Gilbert. I did not look forward to preparing for hurricanes each and every year and then waiting them out for six months. Earthquakes are much easier to prepare for and they happen so rarely that I find it much more tolerable to live in earthquake country than hurricane country.

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  6. elfkat

    That field is probably one of the safest places during an earthquake since the likelihood of of severe displacement in a 7.5 earthquake is very small and there is nothing to fall on them.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      But the western side is going to split and fall off into the Pacific Ocean, leaving the eastern side as beachfront property. Hmmmm. I guess you’re right. The kids will be playing on the beach at the end of the earthquake……………LOL

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Probably so. We have six or seven little ripples each day and we don’t even feel them anymore, nor do they make the news. It needs to be about a magnitude 4 at least before it even gets mentioned.

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  7. apronheadlilly

    Spooky stuff! Still after all these years in CA, I am still not used to the quakes! As far as the paper writing thing: I would have Googled and totally busted that paying student for plagiarism! 🙂

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          From Wikipedia:

          “Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work. The idea remains problematic with unclear definitions and unclear rules. The modern concept of plagiarism as immoral and originality as an ideal emerged in Europe only in the 18th century, particularly with the Romantic movement.

          Plagiarism is considered academic dishonesty and a breach of journalistic ethics. It is subject to sanctions like penalties, suspension, and even expulsion.

          Plagiarism is not a crime per se but in academia and industry, it is a serious ethical offense, and cases of plagiarism can constitute copyright infringement.”

          I see no plagiarism. He did not “wrongfully appropriate” or “steal and publicize” the work. He did represent them as his original work, but there is an “and” in the sentence that connects that representation to the wrongful appropriation, theft, and publicize.

          Since he paid me for it under informal, unwritten contract stating that I would write a term paper for him and he would pay me $xx, no plagiarism, just cheating.

          I satisfied a demand which was his problem, not mine. My problem was finding new albums on which to spend my money……….LOL

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          1. apronheadlilly

            I give you a pass because you were 13, but again, Oy! A family member had a professional colleague who spent his whole life plagiarizing works that are not commonly accessed by the general public. He was a man with a PhD, notoriety in the field, position and prestige. He was 50 something when it was finally discovered that he had plagiarized most of his life’s work. He was booted and discredited. The moral: Even if the work is poorer than another’s, folks should do their own work. Most colleges now have program’s to catch plagiarism, and Googling has helped me find all of a sudden brilliant work from an average student, but you can’t easily catch someone who pays someone else for original work. My, my.

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            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              I don’t believe I need a pass, but thank you………LOL.

              I was an entrepreneur in a capitalistic society creating a supply where there was a demand. Supply & demand……..something I didn’t truly learn about until college. Now I understand that where there’s a demand, someone somewhere will supply it. In many cases, one can even create a supply and then create a demand for that supply! It’s not that hard.

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        2. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          When I arrived at Texas A&M University, I took my typing business with me. I just did typing during my first three semesters, but as I realized that college wasn’t as hard as it was made out to be, I got into research & writing there, too.

          By that time I had a little better sense of ethics, but as a friend told me, “These people you’re researching and writing for are not interested in researching and writing and that’s not what they are going to do after they graduate.” So he didn’t see a problem with my work.

          In actuality as I looked back at that business, I realized that virtually all of the students I was doing research & writing for were in the Corps of Cadets or in sports. Thus, they were more interested in going to war to kill people or play sports professionally.

          Two of my best clients are now professional musicians, one with several Grammy awards. You would recognize both names.

          Another played major league baseball, has several World Series Championship, several All-Star appearances, and was named Rookie of the Year.

          Another is now a General of the United States Army.

          For obvious reasons, I will omit their names here……..LOL.

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          1. apronheadlilly

            My daughter-in-law met up with an old friend who had since married. “Oh, and what does your hubby do for a living?” “He writes papers.” “Really, like for magazines and such?” “No, for college students and post grad students.” That is how he makes his living! If that Masters student does not end up as a musician 🙂 I sure don’t want him using whatever his degree is in on me! Oy. What a world.

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            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              I kind of understand, but different people have different interests. I think I actually would use someone who was using their degree because that degree implies a specialty. For example, mine was in Forest Management. Unfortunately, I had to take computer science as part of my degree. I despised computer science. Still do. But I figured out ways to get the grade I needed and move on. You don’t want me coding your software for you but I could manage the forest in your back yard. A disinterest doesn’t necessarily nullify the interest.

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