California Town Accidentally Fixes Curb That Was Part of Ongoing Geology Study

lonewolfpics, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
lonewolfpics, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / lonewolfpics, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Geology enthusiasts are heartbroken over a seemingly mundane street repair in Hayward, California. The Los Angeles Times reports that workers accidentally repaired a misaligned sidewalk curb that was once the object of study of geologists, both aspiring and pro, across the United States. The curb, which lies on the Hayward fault line, was being slowly pulled apart as the plates shifted, providing a perfect illustration of seismic forces in action.

The nondescript sidewalk curb was an unlikely field trip site for scientists starting as far back as the 1970s. Over the years, two sides of the once-straight curb, which runs perpendicular to the fault line, were pulled apart, providing scientists with a useful visual of the Hayward fault’s movement. Geologist David Schwartz tells NPR that the curb moved approximately 4 millimeters each year, shifting eight inches in total.

Assistant city manager Kelly McAdoo told the Los Angeles Times that there was no malicious intent behind the curb repair—rather, city employees simply didn’t know that the cracked curb was of geological interest to anyone. Where geologists saw science in action, they simply saw a sidewalk in need of repair. They replaced the curb in order to install a wheelchair accessible ramp.

While scientists are disappointed that their favorite curb is gone, Schwartz told the Los Angeles Times he takes solace in the fact that the fault will eventually pull the repaired curb asunder once again. The repaired curb is, after all, still sitting directly on the fault line. “The fault will have its revenge,” Schwartz said. Of course, it will take a few years for the fault to crack the curb again—but geology enthusiasts would probably agree that it's worth the wait.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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