Obscura Society LA: San Andreas Scavenger Hunt - Atlas Obscura
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Obscura Society LA: San Andreas Scavenger Hunt

Discover the signs of Southern California's most threatening earthquake fault, hidden in plain view

California has plenty of faults—seismic faults, that is.

Join Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein and USGS geophysicist Sue Hough on a rocky road trip across Southern California in search of the seismic hazards of the LA Basin and Mojave Desert that are shaping our earth and wrenching our neighborhoods apart—moving them in two opposing directions.

On our bus adventure, we'll view the actual San Andreas Fault line from a vista point in the Antelope Valley and a spot where the freeway crosses the fault. With an earthquake expert and accomplished scientific author as our guide, we'll seek out visible evidence of fault movements, which have created, among other geological phenomena, Lost Lake—an unexpected body of water in the middle of the desert formed in a sunken patch of land between two fault strands. No streams feed it or drain it. The water just comes up out of the fault. Elsewhere, a landscaping feature that looks like a grassy knoll is actually a surface rupture from the 1971 San Fernando earthquake—in a McDonald's parking lot in the Valley.

We'll start and end our journey at the Caltech Seismological Laboratory, a focal point for earthquake information in Southern California, including a repository of antique seismometers and a media center from which scientists alert and inform the public about seismic activity. There, we'll be joined by Stan Schwarz, the system administrator for USGS's earthquake detection system who built and currently runs their Earthquake Notification System.

Come with us to learn about ancient and other historical earthquakes, as well as the future threats to life as we know it—if you dare.*

*Actual seismic activity during our excursion not guaranteed.

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Notes for this adventure:

- We will be traveling together in a chartered bus. No carpooling or caravanning allowed because of unpaved roads and other hazards. This is an all-day event, and there are no late arrivals or early departures. 

- This excursion involves some moderate walking on unpaved pathways to reach some of the sites. This is not wheelchair-friendly, but if you have mobility issues or any other accessibility concerns, please let us know before purchasing your ticket.

- Although we will spend the majority of our time inside a bus, we will make several stops to explore outside in the sun. Please wear sun protection (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses) and bring plenty of water.

- We will stop for a brief no-host lunch (everyone pays for themselves). You may brown bag your own lunch, but please no eating on the bus. Let us know if you have any special dietary needs or restrictions.

- Some of our sites may be out of cell phone range, so please plan accordingly.

- No children under age 12.

- Free all-day parking will be available.

- Our return time is estimated and subject to change based on traffic, weather, and other variables.

- A signed liability waiver will be required from all confirmed attendees.

Advance Tickets Only. All Sales Final.