Deep Oakland: How Geology Shaped a City

Deep Oakland: How Geology Shaped a City
Paper over board, 5.25 x 8, with 12 maps, 256 pages.
ISBN: 9781597145961.

By Andrew Alden

Beneath Oakland’s streets and underfoot of every scurrying creature atop them, rocks roil, shift, crash, and collide in an ever-churning seismological saga. Playing out since time immemorial, the deep geology of this city has chiseled and carved its landforms and the lives of everyone—from the Ohlone to the settlers to the transients and transplants—who has called this singular place home.

In Deep Oakland, geologist Andrew Alden excavates the ancient story of Oakland’s geologic underbelly and reveals how its silt, soil, and subterranean sinews are intimately entwined with its human history—and future. Poised atop a world-famous fault line now slumbering, Alden charts how these quaking rocks gave rise to the hills and the flats; how ice-age sand dunes gave root to the city’s eponymous oak forests; how the Jurassic volcanoes of Leona Heights gave way to mining boom times; how Lake Merritt has swelled and disappeared a dozen times over the course of its million-year lifespan; and how each epochal shift has created the terrain cradling Oaklanders today. With Alden as our guide—and with illustrations by Laura Cunningham—we see that just as Oakland is a human crossroads, a convergence of cultures from the world over, so too is the bedrock below, carried here from parts still incompletely known.

Categories Forthcoming | History | Nature

About the Author

Andrew Alden

Andrew Alden

Andrew Alden is a geologist and geoscience writer who has worked for the US Geological Survey and reported for KQED and Bay Nature. Long fascinated with rocks and landscapes, Alden found inspiration for his debut book, Deep Oakland, in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which, as he writes, “ripped the city open and revealed to us its heart and character.” Through his writing Alden raises awareness for what he calls the deep present: the appreciation of the ancient underpinnings that shape the modern-day surroundings of daily life.

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