Scientists create Google Earth geology tour of the Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Living in the Bay Area, we're surrounded by some of the world's most epic geology. But how much do you actually know about the Hayward Fault? Or the Marin Headlands?

A new virtual field trip guide created by a group of geologists allows us all to explore the earth around us.

"Here in the Bay Area we have all this long and complex geological history that culminates in the active San Andreas Fault, Hayward Fault that are affecting our lives today," geologist Dr. Christie Rowe told ABC7 News from the Marin Headlands. "And they're amazing sites where people can get out and see the evidence of geology moving underfoot."

Rowe is an associate professor at McGill University in Montreal and a Mill Valley native, who says she has been fascinated with Bay Area geology since a young child. She is one of the five geologists with the American Geophysical Union who have collaborated with Google to create this new geology field guide, titled "Streetcar 2 Subduction."

"We're taking some classical geological field trip guides around the Bay Area, and we've transformed them for the digital age," Rowe explained.

The new digital experience - which can be accessed on a phone or a desktop computer using Google Chrome - is an update to the "Streetcar to Subduction" guidebook from the '70s and '80s by UC Berkeley geologist Clyde Wahrhaftig. It uses Google Earth technology, videos, and photographs to explain the geology of several sites around the Bay Area, including the Marin Headlands, Glen Canyon Park, Angel Island, and the Hayward Fault.

"It's hard if you don't have experience in geology to find a way in, to know where to go or what to look for or how to understand what you see," Rowe said. "So, we designed this guide with the idea that people can get out and see it for themselves."

The Bay Area is the first location the geologists have mapped out. They are working on creating similar virtual field trips in other cities in the coming years.

"I think everyone is fundamentally interested in the world around them, especially here in the Bay Area we're really living with the consequences of plate tectonics every day, we're constantly hearing or concerned about the motion of faults or landslides," Rowe said. "And it's the geology controlling all that that we're hoping to reveal and make more accessible through this field trip guide."

You can access the Bay Area field guide here.
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