The Science of Sustainability

Gallegos Winery and the Hayward Fault

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In Fremont, construction is underway on the Warm Springs Extension of the BART light-rail system. Two new stations are in the plans, the first one being the "optional" Irvington Station at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Osgood Road. It will be right next to the century-old ruins of the Gallegos Winery, where cultural history coincides, as it so often does in the Bay Area, with geological history.

What interests the geologist about the extension is that the rail line will cross the Hayward fault in two more places (BART already crosses the fault inside the tunnel between the Rockridge and Orinda stations). The Fremont Station, at the end of the line today, is just short of the fault. As you look south from the station, the fault comes from behind to the left and crosses to the right just across Walnut Avenue. Tule Pond, the little lake to your left, sits in a sag basin on the fault (learn more about them on the San Andreas Fault Trail across the Bay at Los Trancos Preserve).

The new track will cross the fault leftward, dive underground beneath Fremont's Central Park and re-emerge just north of the Irvington Station headed due south. It will cross the fault again, rightward this time, about where Washington Boulevard and Osgood Road meet. Here's the fault superimposed on a Google Maps image of the area.

Gallegos Winery site. Fault map from Lienkaemper (1992)

Circles mark locations where evidence has been gathered on the fault. The red circle marks the Gallegos Winery site. Fault map from Lienkaemper (1992)

The low hill on the east side of Osgood is most probably a pressure ridge, the opposite of a sag basin, that marks the fault just like the pressure ridge in Hayward. Here's how it looks a little south of the station site; the Gallegos Winery was dug into it.

How the Irvington Station area looked in June 2009

How the Irvington Station area looked in June 2009. All photos by Andrew Alden

The Hayward fault was attractive to builders before anyone understood faults. One reason is that faults often bring water to the surface; the other is that faults often build useful elevations in the ground. In Irvington, Juan Gallegos built a large state-of-the-art winemaking plant here in 1884 so that grapes could be loaded from the high ground in back and processed with the help of gravity. A rail spur served the front side, carrying thousands of barrels of excellent East Bay zinfandel to a ready market.

The three-story brick structure was a landmark much like its counterparts in Napa today, surrounded by gardens and palm trees. The building was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake (107 years ago today), but the land remained a garden estate, having been subdivided long before when phylloxera and a poor economy ended the good times.

gallegostop

Much later, the Hayward fault was mapped through here, and the abandoned site lent itself to scientific monitoring. One of the fault's four creepmeter installations is here. A creepmeter is a rod of quartz or Invar metal, securely mounted and housed in an underground climate-controlled vault that extends across the fault (see the plans here). It's regularly measured to track the slow, steady fault movement known as creep.

Solar power panel serving the Gallegos creepmeter

Solar power panel serving the Gallegos creepmeter

The creepmeter shows the fault here moving between 6 and 7 millimeters a year. The wall at the right side of the photo is also being bent by creep. Ideally, when the Irvington Station is built, this site will be spruced up and some interpretive signage put in. Fremont, unlike most cities along the Hayward fault, has done a lot to inform the public about it.

Once upon a time, Fremont was a celebrated wine district. It was good land, watered by thrust-faulted hills. If not for one or two accidents of history, today Fremont might be as prominent as Livermore and Napa as a wine region. Indeed, the whole East Bay could have made a superb viticultural region if the timing of its earthquakes had been a little different. Something to ponder with your aperitif.

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Category: Blog, Geology

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Andrew Alden

About the Author ()

Andrew Alden earned his geology degree at the University of New Hampshire and moved back to the Bay Area to work at the U.S. Geological Survey for six years. He has written on geology for About.com since its founding in 1997. In 2007, he started the Oakland Geology blog, which won recognition as "Best of the East Bay" from the East Bay Express in 2010. In writing about geology in the Bay Area and surroundings, he hopes to share some of the useful and pleasurable insights that geologists give us—not just facts about the deep past, but an attitude that might be called the deep present. Read his previous contributions to QUEST, a project dedicated to exploring the Science of Sustainability.
  • Steve Bjerklie

    Thank you for this, Andrew. Fascinating. For more about the Gallegos Winery, I recommend the first volume of "The History of Wine in America" by Pinney.