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U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2188

Prepared in cooperation with the National Association of Geoscience Teachers Far Western Section

Geology and Natural History of the San Francisco Bay Area; A Field-Trip Guidebook

Edited by Philip W. Stoffer and Leslie C. Gordon



A National Association of Geoscience Teachers Far Western Section (NAGT-FWS) field conference is an ideal forum for learning about the geology and natural history of the San Francisco Bay area. We visit classic field sites, renew old friendships, and make new ones. This collection of papers includes field guides and road logs for all of the Bay-area trips held during the NAGT-FWS 2001 Fall Field Conference and supplemental chapters on other aspects of the area’s natural and human history. The trips touch on many aspects of the geology and natural hazards of the Bay area, especially urban problems associated with living on an active tectonic plate margin: earthquake faults, coastal erosion, landslides, and the utilization of land and natural resources. We hope this conference not only provides a two-day learning opportunity for conference participants but that students and educators will use this field guidebook for future teaching and research.

Many thanks are due to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and San José State University (SJSU) for cohosting the conference. We are grateful to each of the field trip leaders for preparing the trips and writing the accompanying guides. We especially appreciate the many hours put in by the guidebook reviewers, Robert I. Tilling (USGS) and Paula Messina (SJSU), and to the USGS Western Publications Group for editing, layout, and web posting. Additional guidebook contributions include articles by John Galloway, Scott Starratt, Page Mosier, and Susan Toussaint. During the conference guest speakers include Robert I. Tilling (USGS Volcano Hazards Team) and Ross Stein (USGS Earthquake Hazards Team). Workshops prepared for the conference include GIS in the classroom, using USGS data by John Vogel (USGS) and Paula Messina (SJSU), and The Best of BAESI (Bay Area Earth Science Institute), a teacher training organization under the direction of Ellen Metzger (SJSU) and Richard Sedlock (SJSU). The conference provides an opportunity to showcase USGS scientific and education resources with self-guided tours of the USGS Library, the Earth Science Information Center (ESIC), the Visitor Center, and various laboratories on the USGS campus and includes a half-day participatory tour of the USGS research vessel the R/V Polaris and the USGS Marine Facility at the Port of Redwood City under the direction of Cynthia L. Brown, Francis Parchaso, and Tara Schraga. Beyond the names mentioned above, a host of USGS and SJSU staff, SJSU students, and NAGT-FWS members contributed to the preparation and orchestration of the conference. We couldn’t have done it alone. Leslie C. Gordon (USGS), Philip W. Stoffer (USGS), and Deborah Harden (SJSU) NAGT-FWS 2001 Fall Field Conference Organizers

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Satellite image of San Francisco Bay area processed by Michael J. Rymer, USGS. Data from Landsat 5, path 44, row 34, bands 7, 4, and 2 in a respective red, green, and blue (RGB) assemblage. Date of imagery November 30, 1991.

This report consists of six field trip guides and five articles available here as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. Each guide and article can be downloaded separately or the entire field guide can be downloaded as one document.

Files available for download:

Cover, title page, contents, and preface (5.1 MB)

Field-trip guides

The Geology from Santa Cruz to Point Año Nuevo—The San Gregorio Fault Zone and Pleistocene Marine Terraces (7.4 MB)

A Geologic Excursion to the East San Francisco Bay Area (22.1 MB)

Geology of the Golden Gate Headlands (11.2 MB)

San Andreas Fault and Coastal Geology, from Half Moon Bay to Fort Funston—Crustal Motion, Climate Change, and Human Activity (4.7 MB)

Elements of Engineering Geology on the San Francisco Peninsula—Challenges When Dynamic Geology and Society’s Transportation Web Intersect (18.9 MB)

The Calaveras and San Andreas Faults in and Around Hollister (4.2 MB)


… And the Fog Will Burn Off By Noon— A Brief Introduction to the Weather of the San Francisco Bay Area (2.1 MB)

Consumer Uses of Industrial Minerals in the San Francisco Bay Area—Houses to Interstates (1.8 MB)

A Brief History of Population Growth in the Greater San Francisco Bay Region (1.3 MB)

Resource Directory For Discovering Native Americans and Archaeology in the San Francisco Bay Area (420 kB)

Information Resources About the Geology and Natural History of the San Francisco Bay Area (442 kB)

Download the entire field guide as one PDF file (76 MB)

Last modified March 28, 2012
First posted November 9, 2001

For additional information:
Contact Information, Western Region Geology and Geophysics Science Center—Menlo Park
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS-973
Menlo Park, CA 94025-3591

This report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Stoffer, P.W., and Gordon, L.C., eds., 2001, Geology and natural history of the San Francisco Bay area; a field-trip guidebook: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2188, 194 p., available at

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