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New state money will better map active faults on the Central Coast

Published On: Jan 13 2014 08:32:14 PM CST
earthquake mapping

Gov. Jerry Brown's new spending plan could help geologists better map active fault lines below us. That means a better idea on the safest place to build. Currently, the state has over 300 active fault lines to map but have been mapping one per year. That's because of low staffing level.

Geologist instructor at Hartnell College Bob Barminski said that slows development down because developers need to know where the closest fault is before building.

"They've got the fault mapped and they have a set back distance on each side of the fault," said Barminski of the active faults near Hollister.

Barminkski said the map was made in the 70s a long time after the town began growing, Barminski said that's why you see cracked sidewalks, walls, and buildings through the middle of the city.

"It's because the movement along the fault is sharing back and forth. If you were doing geologic mapping today they wouldn't allow you to build on this fault," said Barminski.

Barminski said the maps are critical for the state. By law there is a mandatory 50-foot distance buildings should have from active faults, and they must not build across one. In order to know that, the area must be mapped.

"If the state hasn't completed their mapping, then you wouldn't be allowed to build it because the mapping isn't completed. So it does affect the economy of the state," said Barminski.

Barminski said budget cuts in the past have slowed the geologic mapping process. He said it involves the state geologist to compile all research done by local geologists.

"There's a lot data to look through," said Barminski.

Brown is seeking enough money to increase the number of scientists who find faults from one to four, a staffing level not seen in 20 years.