Site Expansion Coming Soon – Imperial Valley Geology

As an extension of my coverage of the geology here in Southern California, I intend to add a page on the geology in the Imperial Valley region. Subjects such as the Salton Sea, mud pots, Lake Cahuilla, the Colorado River Delta, and more as time permits. There is a lot to cover and more to the region than normally meets the eye.

Highway Resources Page

I’ve recently added a new section to the socalregion website. I noticed the site was lacking in resources for local roadways. In particular, information on how to contact various local agencies for road projects, logs, and maintenance. With this in mind, I’ve added a new page to help others get their roads fixed and find out more information about those roadways. I’ve called it the “Southern California Highway Resources” page, which can be found on the Southern California Highways page and via this link.

Southern California – Defined?

This website started off covering a small area, the Santa Clarita Valley. I later started a second website for the San Diego area. Both sites were somewhat limited in scope. Now, with those sites combined, I’ve also increased the area that the website covers. The new name for the site, Southern California Regional Rocks and Roads seems to state a much larger area. What really is Southern California and what does part of it does this website really cover?

The region, Southern California, or So Cal by some, varies by definition. My definition isn’t exactly a standard one either but I think it is the best fitting one. Southern California is usually defined as the whole of Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, western Riverside, and San Diego Counties. This constitutes much of the populated section as well as the area west (or south) of major mountain ranges. This definition leaves out quite a large area, however. It really should be “Coastal Southern California”. How do I then define Southern California and what area I plan to cover with this website? I personally define Southern California as the area south of the 119 degree line, which tends to define the northern boundaries of San Luis Obispo, Kern, and San Bernardino Counties. This site, however, will cover a smaller portion of that region. This website will cover, eventually, the region encompassing all of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, southern Kern, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Imperial, and San Diego Counties.

I’ve sometimes termed this website to be a “monster”. Why do I? Every time I think it is “done”, I come up with more projects to expand the site. There is a lot to cover here in Southern California and I intend to do the best job that I can for the scope of the site. Defining those boundaries will help to at least partially limit the site’s growth.

Brawley Bypass

A new bypass highway was completed a couple years ago by Caltrans around Brawley. Signed as State 78 and State 111, it forms a northeast loop around town. It is an expressway, not a freeway. This distinction makes for some unusual signage where there is an interchange with State 111.

Confusing sign at the exit on the bypass. Is it current or old?
Confusing sign at the exit on the bypass. Is it current or old?
At the bypass, State 111 turns. Signage is a bit confusing with Old Highway 111 signed at the same exit as current Highway 111.
At the bypass, State 111 turns. Signage is a bit confusing with Old Highway 111 signed at the same exit as current Highway 111.
Heading south, only State 111 is signed, though State 78 also runs here.
Heading south, only State 111 is signed, though State 78 also runs here.
Expressway signage for 78
Expressway signage for 78

April 2010 Baja Earthquake – Part 1

On April 4, 2010, a 7.2 earthquake struck the northern Baja California and Southern California region. I was in Oceanside at a friends house at the time. Initially, I didn’t feel it and thought the others at the party were joking. We had been talking about the Northridge Earthquake earlier in the day. Once I stepped out onto the patio, I felt the ground moving. I knew it was large but farther away. My first thought was – What just happened to Los Angeles? Instead of Los Angeles, it was the Mexicali/Calexico area that got hit the worst as it was much closer to the epicenter.

Map showing the earthquake and affected area.
Map showing the earthquake and affected area.

Wanting to survey the damage to the roadways in that area and see if any of the old bridges were damaged, I headed out the following weekend. As it was also springtime, parts of the desert were in bloom. The ocotillo in particular had a beautiful display of flowers. To get out there, I followed Hwy 80 out to the Desert View Tower. After talking with Ben, the owner, I headed out to Calexico following Hwy 80 and Hwy 98. I was hoping to see cracks in Hwy 98 from any fault movement but did not find any.

Blooming ocotillo along Hwy 98 in the Yuha Desert.
Blooming ocotillo along Hwy 98 in the Yuha Desert.
DSCN0098
Closeup of the blooms.

In Calexico, many buildings were damaged with a large portion of the older downtown area closed off until the buildings could be stabilized. The biggest damage I saw was at a hotel in the northwestern end of downtown. Parts of the walls and roof had collapsed.

An empty and closed off downtown Calexico.
An empty and closed off downtown Calexico.
Partially collapsed roof and wall in Calexico.
Partially collapsed roof and wall in Calexico.
Damaged Hotel De Anza in Calexico.
Damaged Hotel De Anza in Calexico.
Front of Hotel De Anza showing some damage.
Front of Hotel De Anza showing some damage.
Partially collapsed facade of the Hotel De Anza.
Partially collapsed facade of the Hotel De Anza.

Returning from Calexico, I stopped at a few bridges to see the fill on each side had settled, causing some cracking in the pavement. Additional cracks were spotted at the New River crossing on old US 80. Overall, the highways were lightly damaged with some concrete broken at some bridges.

Typical settlement repair at the Westside Canal bridge on Hwy 98.
Typical settlement repair at the Westside Canal bridge on State 98.
Settled dirt at the edge of the Westside Canal at State 98.
Settled dirt at the edge of the Westside Canal at State 98.
Both sides of the New River trench show settlement on US 80.
Both sides of the New River trench show settlement on US 80.
Cracked pavement on old US 80 at the New River.
Cracked pavement on old US 80 at the New River.
Cracking in pavement and soil from settling at the edge of the New River trench.
Cracking in pavement and soil from settling at the edge of the New River trench.