Contaminant Plumes of the
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


strawberry canyon mapContaminant Plumes of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Interrelationship to faults, Landslides, and Streams in Strawberry Canyon, Oakland and Berkeley, California.



March 2007
Laurel Collins, Geomorphologist Watershed Sciences
Pamela Sihvola, Project Manager Committee to Minimize Toxic Waste
P.O. Box 9646 Berkeley, California 94709





The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), initially called the UC Radiation Laboratory, was originally located on the University of California Berkeley (UCB) central campus in Alameda County during 1932. By 1940, it was relocated to its present site in the steep hills of Strawberry Canyon east of the Hayward Fault and the central UCB campus (Figure 1). The first major facility, the 184-inch synchrocyclotron was built with funds from both private and university sources, and was used in the Manhattan Project in the development of the world's first nuclear bomb. Beginning in 1948 the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and then its successor agency, the Department of Energy (DOE) funded the lab while it continued to expand its facilities in Strawberry Canyon.

Numerous geotechnical investigations have been conducted during the past six decades as LBNL expanded while also experiencing problems with slope stability. The many geotechnical and environmental reports generated by LBNL, as well as research from local academic, state, and federal entities, indicate that minimal agreement has existed among scientists on the location of bedrock contacts or location and status of earthquake faults and landslides in the Canyon.

This is important because LBNL has been required to monitor radioactive accidents and chemical releases that have contaminated the groundwater and tributary streams of Strawberry Creek, which flow westward from the jurisdictional boundaries of Oakland to Berkeley and the UCB Campus. There has been concern by the public that mitigation to protect public health might be compromised by the lack of comprehensive (and agreed upon) information on the potential transport pathways of contaminants along bedrock contacts, faults, and landslides. Without such information, the array of sampling wells designed to monitor contaminant migration have not been strategically placed to define the limits of contamination or potential plume migration. During 1991, the Department of Energy's (DOE) Tiger Team found 678 violations of DOE regulations that cover management practices at LBNL. A key finding was that air, soil, and water in Berkeley and Oakland are contaminated with tritium and other radioactive substances and toxic chemicals.

Our project and this report "Contaminant Plumes of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and their Interrelation to Faults, Landslides, and Streams in Strawberry Canyon, Berkeley and Oakland, California" was supported by a grant from the Citizens' Monitoring and Technical Assessment Fund (MTA Fund) to the Committee to Minimize Toxic Waste (CMTW). The report addresses the need to compile and develop publicly accessible maps of Strawberry Canyon, which show the geologic and geomorphic characteristics that might influence ground and surface water movement near known LBNL contaminant sites. The intent of this map compilation project is to show where there is or is not agreement among the various technical reports and scientific interpretations of Strawberry Canyon.
This report can also be found on the following web site: http://www.cmtwberkeley. org


The specific objectives of the project were:

1) Help define or show where there is potential confusion or disagreement about the location of geological units and associated faults by showing interpretations by various science organizations.

2) Help define the historical channel and landslide network.

3) Locate verifiable bedrock outcrops as the basis for geologic interpretation;

4) Identify sites of slope instability, especially those associated with groundwater, and landslides;

5) Synthesize surface geotechnical information with contaminant plume information for the greater Strawberry Canyon area on a common base map.

6) Post results of technical report on CMTW's web site.

This project provides necessary information to better evaluate the status of existing geological knowledge for Strawberry Canyon and the potential for contaminant migration pathways at existing plumes sites. By achieving a common base of understanding, a more effective monitoring and mitigation plan can be developed for the contamination sites. Benefits will also be provided for future geotechnical investigations during expansion of facilities at either LBNL or UCB. We have started by compiling available information on a series of overlays that show:

a) Current stream and storm drain network, and all sewer lines and hydraugers, delineation of the Lennert Aquifer;

b) Interpretation of historic drainage network and springs as indicated on the Map of Strawberry Valley and Vicinity Showing the Natural Sources of the Water Supply of the University of California, by Frank Soulé, Jr. 1875; c) Geology; d) Faults, seismicity, and Alquist Priolo Earthquake Fault Zone; e) Landslides; 1) Areas of contamination evaluated in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) process; g) Additional toxic sites located outside the LBNL fence line, but on UC land, such as the old waste pit at the former Chicken Creek animal husbandry site as well as groves of trees and vegetation, south of the Lawrence Hall of Science, contaminated with tritium (radioactive hydrogen) in soil; h) Topography with building sites, and roads.


This report is specifically designed to demonstrate what is known about the key components of Strawberry Canyon that can influence surface and subsurface water transport, particularly near infrastructure and known contaminant plumes at LBNL. We have taken the key elements of surface drainage, geology, faults, and landslides and divided them into distinct subsections for this report.

We first provide a General Site Description and then provide information about the Contaminant Sites. This is followed by a brief discussion of Methods used in this report to produce original maps and compile existing information. Within the Results section, each subsection on Surface Drainage, Geology, Fault mapping, and Landslides provides background information and a few smaller scale maps showing recent interpretations. Larger maps are provided to show compilations of recent information.

These compilations are used to determine whether there is agreement by different researchers about the location of faults, bedrock contacts, or landslides. Each compilation map shows the contaminant plumes in the context of the different physical elements to determine if those elements could have potential influences on contaminant transport. The Plume Monitoring Sites are then shown to indicate the array and position of sampling and monitoring wells. This latter information is presented in much detail in several online documents produced by LBNL (2000, 2003, 2004 and 2007) that can be downloaded from their web site (

Within the Results subsection, a map on Zones of Concern is provided that indicates potential groundwater migration sites near each plume that might not be adequately sampled or understood given the present status of knowledge of factors that can influence groundwater transport. A map showing Future Development and Site Conditions and the compilation of potential factors that could influence plume migration is shown as the final map within the Results section. Conclusions and General Recommendations are provided at the end of the report.


LBNL is located in a very seismically active area, next to the Hayward Fault on the steep west facing slopes of the Berkeley Hills within the 874-acre Strawberry Canyon. Figure 2 shows the location of the Alquist Priolo Earthquake Fault Zone and the footprint of buildings and roads in Strawberry Canyon. It also shows the location of several known contaminant plumes that are monitored by LBNL. The nature of these plumes is discussed further in the section on Contaminant Sites. The building sites and their associated numbers are shown in Figure 3a, while Figure 3b provides a legend to the building numbers.

Topographic relief in the canyon ranges from 400 feet to 1800 feet, whereas elevations within the LBNL boundary range from about 500 feet to 1000 feet. The Mediterranean climate of the Coast Ranges produces a mean annual rainfall of about 28 inches. Within the LBNL site, two major east-west trending creeks, Strawberry and North Fork of Strawberry, have perennial flow that drains respectively through Strawberry and Blackberry Canyons toward the City of Berkeley and the San Francisco Estuary.

Chemical and Hazardous Contamination

LBNL operations fall under a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Hazardous Waste Facility Permit. The Permit requires that LBNL investigate and address historic releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents within their property as part of the RCRA Corrective Action Program. LBNL' s Environmental Restoration Program is responsible for carrying out these activities.

Waste products at the LBNL have included solvents, gasoline, diesel fuel, waste oils, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Freon, metals, acids, etchants, and lead and chromate based paints. According to the LBNL RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) Report (2000), the primary contaminants detected in soil and groundwater at LBNL have been volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including tetrachloroethene (also known as tetrachloroethylene or perchloroethene [PCE]), trichloroethene (also known as trichloroethylene [TCE]), carbon tetrachloride, 1,1 -dichloroethene (1,1 -DCE), cis- 1, 2dichloroethene (cis-1, 2-DCE), 1,1,1- trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA), and 1,1dichloroethane (1,1-DCA). Some of these are common solvents and degreasers that have been used at LBNL for equipment cleaning. Smaller concentrations of other VOCs (e.g., benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes [BTEX]; chloroform; and vinyl chloride) have also been detected.

The LBNL RFI (2000) reported that contamination of soil and groundwater by petroleum hydrocarbons was associated with former underground storage tank sites and that PCB contamination has been primarily associated with spilled transformer oils and waste oil tanks. Freon- 113, a coolant for experimental apparatus, has been detected in groundwater south of Building 71.

The Human Health Risk Assessment (LBNL, 2003) identified chlorinated volatile organic compounds in soil and groundwater and PCBs in soil as chemicals of concern (COC) at LBNL. Prior to submission of the Corrective Measures Study (CMS) Report, Berkeley Lab completed Interim Corrective Measures (ICMs) that reduced residual PCB concentrations at the two units where PCB levels were a concern to less than the required media clean-up standard. LBNL (2007) discusses that after submittal of the Corrective Measures Implementation Work plan, elevated concentrations of PCBs were detected in shallow groundwater samples collected near the Building 51 Motor Generator Room Filter Sump, indicating PCBs were a potential COC in the soil at this location.

Groundwater is not used for drinking or other domestic water supply at LBNL. Water is supplied to LBNL and Berkeley residents by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (LBNL, 2007). In addition there are many private backyard wells in the city. Unless otherwise designated by the State's Water Quality Control Board, all groundwater is considered suitable, or potentially suitable, for municipal or domestic water supply. Exceptions to this policy are specified in State Water Resources Control Board Resolution 88-63.

Resolution 88-63 defines all groundwater as a potential source of drinking water, with limited exceptions for areas with total dissolved solids exceeding 3,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L), low yield (<200 gallons per day [gpd]), or naturally high levels of toxic chemicals that cannot reasonably be treated for domestic use. Under the Water Board's Water Quality Control Plan, groundwaters with a beneficial use of municipal and domestic supply have cleanup levels set no higher than Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL 's) or secondary MCLs for thinking water.

The following descriptions from the 2007 Draft LBNL Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) report exemplify some of the conditions and circumstances at the contaminant sites. Note that Old Town is in the general vicinity of Buildings 25 and 52, near the central land holdings of LBNL. All plumes can be seen in Figure 2. Further details can be found within the referenced reports.

The Old Town Groundwater Solvent Plume is a broad, multi-lobed plume of VOC contaminated groundwater, which underlies much of the Old Town area. The distribution of chemicals in the plume indicates that it consists of three coalescing lobes that were originally discrete plumes derived from distinct sources. The Building 7 lobe, which contains the highest VOC concentrations of the three lobes, extends northwestward from the northwest corner of Building 7 to the parking area downhill from Building 58. Leaks and/or overflows of VOCs (primarily PCE) from the Former Building 7 Sump, an abandoned sump that was located north of Building 7, were the primary source of the Building 7 lobe. These chemicals were initially released as free product to the soil around the sump and then migrated as dense non-aqueous-phase liquid (DNAPL) into the saturated zone, forming a source zone for further migration of contaminants. Continuing dissolution of contaminants from the soil and westward to northwestward flow of the groundwater from the sump area has resulted in the development of the Building 7 lobe of the Old Town Groundwater Solvent Plume.

Contaminated soil and groundwater were present beneath the area where Building 51L was located. The principal contaminants were VOCs that were used as cleaning solvents, or were derived from degradation of cleaning solvents. In addition, a small area of VOC-contaminated soil was present beneath the abandoned Building 51A stormdrain catch basin next to the Building 51A Bdoor. Contaminated soil in the bottom of the catch basin was removed in 2002. However, groundwater samples from temporary groundwater sampling point SB51A-01-SB installed through the catch basin have contained elevated VOC concentrations, suggesting the presence of additional contaminated soil beneath the catch basin.

A network of subdrains and relief wells located around the perimeter of Building 51 collects subsurface water from the adjacent hillside. Water collected by this network discharges to the Motor Generator Room Filter Sump, which is part of the Building 51 internal floor-drain system. After submittal of the Corrective Measures Implementation (CMI) Work plan, elevated concentrations of PCBs were detected in shallow groundwater samples collected near the sump, indicating that PCBs were a potential COC in the soil at this location.

The Building 51/64 Groundwater Solvent Plume extends south and west from the southeast corner of Building 64 beneath the former location of Building SiB. The corrective measures required for the Building 51/64 Groundwater Solvent Plume consist of operation of an in situ soil-flushing system in the up gradient portion of the plume, implementation of Monitored Natural Attenuation in the down gradient portion of the plume, and collection and treatment of water from the Building 51 subdrain system.

The location of the Building 69A Area of Groundwater Contamination is shown in Figure 2. The most likely source of the contamination was leakage from a pipeline in the Building 69A Hazardous Materials Storage and Delivery Area that drains to the Building 69A Storage Area Sump. A dislocation was observed in one of the sump drainpipes and repaired in 1987.

Radioactive Contamination

Since November 1991, the State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and LBNL have identified 174 "units" of hazardous contamination in the Strawberry Creek Watershed. At least 8 of these 174 "units" were identified as having radioactive contamination. At the same time the California Department of Health Services (DHS) also participated as an additional quality assurance check and provided independent laboratory results to complement LBNL 's environmental monitoring programs.

In September of 1995, the California Department of Health Services (DHS) Environmental Management Branch released the Agreement in Principle (AlP) Annual Report, which identified LBNL's National Tritium Labeling Facility (NTLF), Building 75 as a major concern for radioactive contamination in the environment. The AlP report states:

This facility (NTLF) handles kilocurie quantities of tritium (3H) to label a variety of molecules that are subsequently employed in chemical, pharmaceutical, and biomedical research. It is conceded that releases from the tritium-stack as well as fugitive releases from Building 75 are the primary source of tritium at LBNL. Air-fall, rainout, and possibly transport in fog impacts soil, groundwater, and surface water. There is an area of tritium contaminated groundwater in the vicinity of Building 75. The Quarterly Progress Report, First Quarter FY 1992, (May 1993) reports sampling ten hydraugers, one, immediately down-slope from NTLF, reportedly contained 32,000 pCi/L of tritium.

The AlP Program collected and analyzed surface water samples, which demonstrated that tritium is detectable in surface water around LBL. The AlP further states:

One recent investigation, by Leticia Menchaca (LBNL), analyzing for tritium in transpired vapor from plants on LBNL suggest that there may be significant amounts of tritium in the upper, non-saturated, soil strata. It appears that there may be sufficient evidence to suggest that there may be more tritium in the environment than previously suspected. There are apparently no validated explanations for the appearance of tritium in streams not obviously associated with NTLF. (See Table 1)

During the above referenced investigation, tritium concentration in rainwater was detected as high as 239,000 pCi/L and 197,946 pCi/L in transpired water vapor from trees near the University of California's Lawrence Hall of Science.

Table 1. Comparison of Tritium Levels from Split LBNL Surface Water Samples
Collection Date June 15, 1995 (Table LBNL-6c AlP Report, 1995)


AIP Results

AIP Duplicate

LBNL Results



Results (pCi/L)


Blackberry Creek

3335 ± 255



Claremont Creek

< 328



Wildcat Creek

1147 ± 218

944 ± 214


Lower Strawberry Creek

5902 ± 294



Upper Strawberry Creek

< 328

< 328


In addition, the AlP report expressed concern over the release of Curium-244 from Building 71, the Heavy Ion Linear Accelerator (HILAC). It states:

An area of soil near Building 71 is historically (circa 1959) reported to have been contaminated with Curium-244 when a Curium target being used in an experiment was vaporized. Some of this contamination, reportedly, was transported by the buildings ventilation system and deposited outside. This is documented in two interviews in the RCRA Facility Assessment at LBL Sep. 30, 1992: this document reports that "Cleanup of curium contaminated concrete inside the building is documented but there is no record of sampling outside Bld. 71."

The AlP program's other concerns for radioactive contamination in the LBNL environs included former radioactive waste storage and staging areas, former radioactive decontamination areas and abandoned above ground radioactive waste holding tanks.

In 1998, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) performed a Superfund reassessment of LBNL concluding that "Based upon a preliminary Hazard Ranking System score, the US EPA has determined that LBNL is eligible for the National Superfund Priorities List" for cleanup, due to tritium in air, soil, groundwater, and surface water.

In September of 2001, LBNL announced that the NTLF would cease operations by 12/31/01.

In June 2005 National Academy of Sciences panel, formally known as the Committee on Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, or BEIR, concluded that there is no exposure level found below which dosage of radiation is harmless. The preponderance of scientific evidence shows that even very low doses of radiation pose a risk of cancer or other health problems. The National Academy of Sciences panel is viewed as critical because it addresses radiation amounts commonly used in medical treatment and is likely to also influence the radiation levels that the government will allow at abandoned and other nuclear sites.


Our approach to developing a basic understanding of the contaminant plumes of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and their interrelation to faults, landslides, and streams in Strawberry Canyon was to develop a series of overlays that would show the conditions and various interpretations by previous investigations. The base map data sources were from the City of Berkeley and LBNL Facilities Division, the map projection: California State Plane, Zone III, (map scale 1:3000). Map layers for plumes, geology, faults, and landslides were scanned and then digitized as individual slides.

For the historic channel and landslide network mapping, a base map scale of 1-inch equals 200 feet was used to draw channels and landslides as they were interpreted from stereo aerial photographs and historic maps. The historic map of the drainage network was from Soulé (1875). The topographic projections of Soulé's 1875 base map were not compatible to present day cartographic or survey standards. The stream network, however, in most cases, seems to have a good representation of the number of tributaries and the relationship of one confluence to another. Because Soulé's map could not be digitized directly as an overlay, it was necessary to interpret his intent with regard to channel and spring mapping. This was accomplished by referring to predevelopment topographic maps shown in LBNL (2000) and by viewing stereo pairs of historical air photos, some of which predated development of the 1940's.

Different years of aerial photography were used to map landslides, landslide scars, and colluvial deposits. Three black and white photos were used for the earliest period that represented circa 1935. There were a few sections of stereo overlap in these photos, whereas all the newer photos had complete stereo coverage. The full stereo photo analysis included photos from 1939, 1946, 1947, and 1990. A distinction was made, when possible, to establish between deep-seated and shallow slides. Shallow slides were expected to be less than 30 feet deep, whereas deep-seated slides exceeded 30 feet. Source areas for shallow slides, called colluvial hollows, were also mapped. These source areas often contain scars of former landslides and in some cases have had recent sliding, but certainty was low from aerial interpretation. When there was a high certainty of activity occurring within the last century, the slides were delineated accordingly. Activity status of earthflows was not determined. However, at the very least, these slides should be expected to have higher than normal creep rates than the surrounding soils and they will probably continue to have renewed activity within their boundaries.


Drainage Network Mapping
Within the Lab site, two major east-west trending creeks, Strawberry and North Fork of Strawberry, have perennial flow that drains respectively through Strawberry and Blackberry Canyons toward the City of Berkeley and the San Francisco Estuary. North Fork of Strawberry Creek flows through the boundaries of LBNL. Mainstream Strawberry Creek is not within LBNL boundaries, yet seven of its north-south trending tributaries that flow southward, do drain from the LBNL. These tributaries, cited in the LBNL RFI, 2000 include Cafeteria Creek, Ravine Creek, Ten-inch Creek, Chicken Creek, No-name Creek, Banana, and Pineapple Creeks as shown in Figure 4. The latter two flow into Botanical Garden Creek, which is not within the LBNL boundary, but flows into the central reach of mainstream Strawberry Creek.

The pathways of natural surface water runoff have been altered by years of land use activities in the Canyon, which have caused the natural topography to become highly altered by cut and fill activities, roads, impervious surfaces from buildings and parking lots, and by stormdrain and other infrastructure construction. Natural and land use-related landslides have also changed the flow pathways of both surface and groundwater. Numerous faults, deep-seated landslide failure planes, bedrock contacts, fractures, and joints compound the natural influences on groundwater. They can all strongly influence the direction and rate of subsurface flow.

However, the location of bedrock contacts and faults can be challenging to detect, especially in an unstable landscape where landsliding can mask the geomorphic signatures of faults and bedrock contacts. Overlaying surficial deposits from alluvial fans and colluvium can also obscure these features. Groundwater flow has also been artificially altered by spring development, wells, hydraugers, utility trenches, sewers, subsurface drains, and pumps installed to mitigate contamination, as well as to intercept hill water that historically has caused landslides at LBNL.

Campus Principal Engineer John Shively conceived of the idea of a vertical well to intercept hill-water that was causing landslides both inside and adjacent to LBNL in 1974. He retained Civil Engineer B. J. Lennert to install what is now known as the Shively well, located next to the UC Silver Space Sciences building. It should be noted that the major hill landslide of August 1974 (during a dry season) broke a lab building at LBNL, took out a portion of a laboratory road, and was threatening UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science.

At the same time another landslide was developing above the Lab's corporation yard, threatening the University's Centennial Drive. Lennert's attempts to stop the slides by dewatering the hill area with horizontal hydraugers weren't working. The Shively well apparently stopped both slides.

In 1984 Converse Consultants, Inc. conducted investigations in the eastern portion of the Strawberry Canyon. Their findings were published in a report titled "Hill Area Dewatering and Stabilization Studies" which defined the location of the Lennert Aquifer in the following:

Dewatering measures instituted by Lennert were based on the belief that the main reservoir of deep ground water in the hill area is the volcanic flow (i.e., fractured) rocks of the Moraga Formation situated within a synclinal structure underlying the ridge extending from LBL Building 62 northward to Little Grizzly Peak. These flow rocks were thought to be bottomed in the syncline by less permeable Orinda Formation bedrock (although some permeable sandstone and conglomerate beds within the Orinda exist, they are interbedded with impermeable shales and siltstones). Lennert asserted that ground water was also controlled in the hill area by faults such as the University Fault and the New Fault, which acted as groundwater barriers or as conduits for water flow through cracks and voids along these faults. Lennert also asserted that surface water entered these "tension faults", entering directly and quickly into the groundwater regime.

The location of the Shively well that drains the Lennert aquifer, hydraugers as well as sewers, and stormdrains at LBNL are also shown in Figure 4.

Little remains of the natural drainage network within LBNL boundaries, yet its natural pattern can been interpreted from historical photos and information from Soulé (1875), as shown in Figure 5. The drainage network does not depict differences in perennial versus intermittent or ephemeral flow; it simply indicates where well-defined channels are expected. The springs, however, do represent sites of presumed perennial wetness. Soulé indicated that several springs were developed for water diversion prior to his 1875 map. In Figure 5, the arrows represent where channels might have become non-distinct as they spread across their alluvial fans at the base of steep hillsides. Alluvial fans store bedload and often convert surface flow to subsurface flow over coarse-bedded, highly permeable alluvium.

Near the central and northern LBNL property, two areas show a particularly high density of channels per unit area. These correspond to two east-west trending valleys. The eastern valley is referred to as East Canyon and the central one is Chicken Ranch Canyon. The high density of channels in these valleys appears to be associated with large landslides that occupy the valley floors (Figure 7a). It is likely that highly erosive soils exist in the valley because they have been mechanically disturbed by both landsliding and faulting. In addition, the clay-rich nature of the soils and landslide deposits in these valleys often leads to slow percolation rates, especially along failure planes of earthflows, which can create perched water tables. These factors contribute to increased runoff per unit area, which leads to increased drainage density.

The historic drainage network helps with interpretation of topographic features such as the landslides in East and Chicken Creek Canyons, but it is also useful for showing movement along fault lines such as the Hayward Fault. At the bottom left corner of Figure 5, over 1200 feet of right lateral channel offset has occurred on Strawberry Creek along the area that is now the UCB stadium. Historic channel mapping is also important for predicting potential migration pathways of contaminant plumes along alluvial soils that might have been buried by large deposits of artificial fill, such as in Blackberry Canyon.

A compilation of the current and historic drainage network relative to the 2000, 2003, 2004, and 2007 LBNL contaminant plume locations is shown in Figure 6. Areas shown in grey indicate the location of radionuclides (tritium and curium 244) in soil (LBNL 2006). All the plumes, except Building 37 VOC plume, are shown to intersect historic drainage channels. Storm drains intersect all contaminant plumes except Building 37. The hydraugers do not appear to intersect plume boundaries, although the Building 74 Diesel Plume is very close to the northernmost hydrauger. The contaminant plumes have a general pattern of downhill convergence into both the historic channel and modern storm drain network.

Geologic Bedrock Mapping

The complex geology of Strawberry Canyon involves periods of volcanism, sedimentary deposition within fresh water and marine environments, tectonic uplift, folding, and significant shearing along fault zones that have offset different-aged terrains. LBNL (2000) describes the underlying geologic structure at the lab to be a northeast dipping faulted homocline. Generally, the oldest rocks occupy the lower portions of Strawberry Canyon, while youngest rocks are found toward the east along the ridge.

The middle of the Canyon is more complex with older bedrock formations faulted and offset against younger ones along the Space Science's fault, University fault, New fault, Strawberry Canyon fault, Lawrence Hall of Science fault complex and various un-named faults, as well as the Wildcat and East Canyon Faults. Bedrock of Jurassic to Cretaceousaged Franciscan Assemblage is mostly to the west of the Hayward Fault, beyond Strawberry Canyon. In this area, these rocks are typically marine sandstones that are faulted against younger bedrock of the Great Valley Sequence along the Hayward Fault at the base of the canyon.

The Cretaceous-aged Great Valley Sequence also has a marine origin. It ranges from mudstone and shale to sandstone with occasional conglomerate. The Great Valley Sequence is in fault contact with the Late to Middle Miocene-aged Claremont and the Late Mioceneaged Orinda Formations in different parts of the Canyon. The Claremont Formation is primarily siliceous chert inter-bedded with shale that formed in a deep marine environment. Locally the chert is commonly highly fractured, folded, and faulted. It tends to form erosion resistant outcrops along some ridges.

Conversely, the Orinda is primarily mudstones, sandstones, and minor conglomerates that formed in a non-marine environment. The predominantly clay-rich Orinda shale unit tends to be associated with topographic valleys and is particularly prone to deep-seated landslides. Orinda is stratigraphically overlain and occasionally inter-fingered with the Late Miocene Moraga Formation, which is volcanic in origin and locally tends to be highly fractured, jointed, brecciated, and commonly vesicular (LBNL, 2000). In some places, it has been faulted and offset against the Orinda, especially to the west of the Wildcat Fault.

Although both Orinda and Moraga Formations are highly fractured, the Moraga has hard volcanic flow rocks of andesite and basalt while the Orinda tends to have low strength and hardness. The Moraga Formation is overlain and in contact with the Late Miocene nonmarine sedimentary deposits of the Siesta Formation along the northeastern ridgeline. Beyond the ridge, the volcanic rocks of the Late Miocene Bald Peak Formation overlay the Siesta Formation along the axis of a structural syncline (Graymer, 2000).

Figures 7a, 7b, and Figure 7c show interpretations of the geology in Strawberry Canyon that are different. Although the maps also have slightly different spatial extents, they overlap through most of the LBNL property. All maps identify the Orinda, Moraga, and Claremont Formations, yet the location of the bedrock boundaries do not agree. There are also some slight naming differences for the Great Valley Group rocks identified by LBNL and Graymer versus the Panoche Formation identified by Borg. The Panoche Formation simply represents a part of the Great Valley Group and is therefore not a significant difference in interpretation. Dunn (1976) reported that with regard to slope stability, the worst building sites in Strawberry Canyon were along the Orinda, and the OrindalMoraga contact zones. The principal formations shown to be intersecting the contaminant plume sites are the Orinda and Moraga Formations, Figure 8a and Figure 8b.

Figure 8a shows a compilation of the Moraga bedrock contacts as individually mapped by LBNL, Graymer, Collins, and Borg in the respective Figures 7a, 7b, and Figures 7c, 7d. Figure 8b shows a compilation of bedrock contacts of the Orinda Formation. Note that the Building 51L and 61/64 plumes intersect rocks of the Great Valley Sequence. The location of bedrock contacts near the plume sites is particularly important because ground water can travel laterally along the contact zone rather than just move topographically downhill. This is particularly relevant when sharp reductions in permeability occur in the downhill bedrock. Soil permeability and transmissivity are much greater in the Moraga Formation because it has lower clay content than the Orinda.

When groundwater traveling from the Moraga Formation intercepts the Orinda Formation, positive pore pressures can build, forcing water to move along alternative pathways such as along a bedrock contact, through fractures, or toward the surface where it can cause landslides and/or springs. Interpretation of the size of each contaminant plume and its migration is constrained by the array and number of sampling wells. If water laterally.

migrates along a bedrock contact and if monitoring wells are not placed in a sufficient array to detect these potential flow pathways, the extent and migration of a plume could be easily misinterpreted. Figure 8a and Figure 8b show substantial differences in the interpretation of the location of the bedrock contacts at nearly every plume site.

During the past 60 years, UCB and LBNL have produced innumerable investigations and geotechnical reports for existing and proposed building sites in Strawberry Canyon. Yet, agreement on the position of faults, landslides, and bedrock contacts has not been consistent among these reports. The lack of continuity among the various reports has been noted by previous researchers who have called for a more comprehensive effort to produce a verifiable picture of landslides and geology (Dunn 1976; Collins, 1993; Collins and Jones, 1994).

For example, in 1976 J. Dunn stated that with regard to instability of hillsides near Buildings 46 and 77, most activity involved failure of material in the Orinda Formation or sliding of the Moraga Volcanics on the Orinda. Although borings had been completed, samples recovered, and tested, he reported that the results and conclusions had not been tied together in a workable package. An earlier report by Collins (1993), recommended that "raw" geological observations such as bedrock outcrops should be shown on future geological investigations and that such maps should be an essential component of an integrated, comprehensive, and computerized database for the LBNL site.

With LBNL producing a GIS-based three-dimensional view of their local geologic interpretations, much has been accomplished since 1993. Yet, a verifiable map showing locations of bedrock outcrops and exposures in excavations remains elusive. Hence, it still remains unclear what information has or has not been used as a foundation for LBNL 's geologic map, and why their interpretations differ from reports by their previous consultants

Fault Mapping

The Hayward Fault is part of the larger San Andreas Fault system. It is seismically active and falls within the Alquist Priolo Earthquake Fault Zone, Figure 2. Numerous secondary splay faults are also associated with the Hayward Fault, such as the Wildcat and East Canyon Faults that trend northwestward through East Canyon, Figure 9a. As shown in Figures 9b and 9c, these named faults, as well as the Space Science's Fault, University Fault, New Fault, Strawberry Canyon Fault, Lawrence Hall of Science Fault Complex and numerous un-named faults have been mapped by other researchers. Whether or not a fault has been named or identified within the Alquist Priolo Earthquake Zone does not mean that it is not imperative to show it on geologic maps, especially to relate its position to known contamination sites, especially when the information already exists in published reports.

With respect to plume migration, to identify whether a fault is active is not as important as identifying its potential influence on groundwater transport. Without sufficient understanding of fault locations, planning where to place monitoring wells for defining and constraining plume boundaries cannot be well founded. Fault mapping is also clearly important for identifying potential hazards to buildings and infrastructure, particularly because splay faults and other faults in close proximity to the Hayward Fault have potential to rupture during large magnitude quakes, especially those emanating nearby.

Figure 10 shows the plume locations and a compilation map of the faults shown by various researchers in Figures 9a, 9b, and 9c. As noted in Figure 10, we call the fault that runs along the Bevatron (Building 51 a) and the Advanced Light Source (Building 6) the Cyclotron Fault. The compilation indicates that fault mapping by LBNL does not correspond well with faults mapped by USGS (2007), Converse Consultants (1984), Harding Lawson (1979), or Lennert Associates (1978). Although there is some general agreement about the Hayward, Cyclotron, and Wildcat Faults, there is poor agreement on the existence and location of many of the other faults mapped by others within the LBNL property boundary.

Photo 1. A nearly vertical fault in the Berkeley hills is impeding downhill transport of groundwater, causing it to flow laterally along the fault trace. Water is collecting in a pool at the base of the wet side of the excavation.

During grading operations for the construction of the new LBNL Hazardous Waste Handling Facility and throughout many new excavations in the Berkeley hills, conducted during the 1993 Oakland Hills post-fire reconstruction, Collins and Jones (1994) stated that they made numerous observations of faults exerting strong control on groundwater movement and swale development. Photo 1 shows an example of one of the sites they observed in the Berkeley Hills where groundwater flow moved laterally along a fault plane that impeded downslope groundwater transport. They also observed that the location of crown scarps of several recently active earthflows in the Berkeley Hills corresponded to the location of fault traces. They suggested that fault traces in many areas of the Berkeley Hills are masked by younger deposits of sediment from landslides and streams.

It is important to consider that when excavations expose faults or when utility trenches intersect faults that also intersect contaminated groundwater, the excavations or trenches can become additional avenues for contaminant plume migration. Also important to consider is that zones of varying permeabilities in clay-rich fault gouge can provide traps and pathways for moving water, and in some cases, the traps can build enough pressure to initiate landslides and potentially convert the subsurface flow to surface flow.

Potential problems associated with the lack of definitive geologic mapping in Strawberry Canyon are increased by the proximity of the active Hayward Fault and related seismicity. According to Steinbrugge, et al, (1987) the maximum magnitude earthquake anticipated is 7.5, which has the potential of causing right-lateral horizontal offsets that could average 5 feet along the Hayward Fault. Hoexter (1992) reported that there was potential for secondary or splay faults in the East Bay to have triggered slip from quakes generated along the primary Hayward Fault. Wildcat Fault appears to be a likely splay from the Hayward Fault. Hoexter's survey of historical earthquakes indicated that triggered slip on splays have movement that is usually less than 20% of the primary offset. This suggests that 1.5 feet of horizontal offset on a splay fault from the Hayward Fault could be anticipated if the maximum magnitude quake occurred. Hoexter also reported that vertical displacements could accompany horizontal slip, although a much smaller percentage of total movement would be expected. Such projections of horizontal and vertical offsets along secondary faults should be sufficient to warrant more detailed mapping of fault patterns within Strawberry Canyon.

We believe that sufficient information is not available from the literature to confidently determine the activity status of the numerous faults that exist along the Wildcat Fault shear zone, which may be as much as 600 feet wide and includes the East Canyon Fault (Collins, 1993). Published USGS maps in this report are not of adequate detail or scale to delineate all the bedrock complexity of Strawberry Canyon, yet more detail is shown by USGS than that which LBNL represented on their Bedrock Geology Map, provided in their investigative RFI report (LBNL, 2000). This is perplexing because much geologic complexity has been demonstrated in previous reports and investigations conducted by LBNL's own geotechnical consultants. For example, Figure 11 shows a compilation map detail of faults mapped by various consultants and researchers for just the East Canyon (Collins, 1993). Figure 11 demonstrates general agreement that the Wildcat Fault exists, but poor agreement on its location or number of traces within its shear zone. This site is important because it is the location of the diesel fuel plume near Building 74, and is the proposed location for new buildings in the East Canyon described in the recent LBNL LRDP Report (2007).

During the grading operations for the LBNL Hazardous Waste Handling Facility (Building 85), numerous northwest and east-west trending faults were exposed near the Wildcat Fault shear zone northwest of LBNL Building 74. So many faults were intersected that it brought into question whether the previous 1980 Harding Lawson report by Korbay and Lewis, called the Wildcat Fault Investigation (performed for Building 74), was actually sufficient to evaluate the Wildcat shear zone. The trench was located more than 1000 feet north of Building 74 and inconsistencies within the trench logs confounded interpretation of vertical displacements at the fault trace (Collins, 1993). Further concern arises about the activity status of Wildcat Fault because according to King (1984) and verbal communication from Curtis (1993), a disagreement occurred at the trench site between investigators Steve Korbay of Harding Lawson Associates and Dr. Garniss Curtis of UCB Department of Earth and Planetary Science. Curtis believed there was sufficient evidence in the trench site to designate the Wildcat Fault active, while Korbay did not.

LBNL does not show the Wildcat Fault as active (LBNL, 2000) and we are not presently aware of any additional trench investigations that have been conducted on the Wildcat Fault since 1980. Additional lines of evidence concerning fault activity in Strawberry Canyon, however, can be gleaned from maps showing the epicenters of local seismicity. In Figure 12a, we compiled the fault mapping by others from Figure 9a, 9b, and 9c and overlaid the epicenters of seismic events that have occurred in the Strawberry Canyon during the last 40 years. Over 57 earthquakes with Richter Magnitude between 1.8 and 3.0 have occurred in Strawberry Canyon. Such a high incidence of microseismicity within the mapped traces of Wildcat Fault and between the Wildcat and the Cyclotron Faults provides compelling evidence that additional faults other than just the Hayward should be considered as active in Strawberry Canyon. Indeed, recently during March 2007 two small earthquakes, magnitude 2.0 and 1.4, shook the Canyon along an unnamed fault and the Hayward Fault, respectively (

During the 1991 excavation for Building 84 in the East Canyon, Collins, Jones, and Curtis observed bedrock contacts and numerous fault exposures in the excavated bedrock at the building site. Of particular significance was the discovery of an entire geologic bedrock unit, the Briones Formation, which had never before been mapped in Strawberry Canyon. The Briones outcrop, which was full of marine shell fragments, was interpreted as a tectonic block that has been dragged along the Wildcat Fault during the last 10 million years. Its displacement might exceed 9 miles, which is twice the amount previously considered possible along this fault (personal communication Dr. D. Jones, UCB Department of Earth and Planetary Science).

Pat Williams (former LBNL staff Scientist Earth Sciences Division) speculated that a structural connection might exist between the active Hayward and Pinole Faults, and that the linkage might be associated with the Wildcat Fault (personal communication, 1992). Bishop (1973) documented evidence of active creep along the Wildcat Fault north of El Cerrito. During a 1971 survey of the East Bay Municipal Utility District water tunnel (between San Pablo Reservoir and the Kensington Filtration plant), vertical and right lateral displacements were documented near the Wildcat Fault shear zone. Taylor (1992) reports that the pattern of fault creep observed in the Montclair area (south of Berkeley) and elsewhere along the Hayward fault indicates that the broad fault zone might contain more than one Holocene active fault trace.

During the winter of 1992, another subsurface trench investigation was conducted on the East Canyon Fault. It was performed by Geo Resource Consultants and LBNL staff for LBNL. Evidence of both vertical and horizontal offset was discovered. This dual type of motion is probably typical for faults in the Canyon. Jones and Brabb (1992) suggest that significant displacement has occurred across the Berkeley Hills from combined strike-slip and thrust movements. Jones (1992) reports that most of the major strike-slip faults in the Coast Ranges have attendant parallel thrust faults rooted within primary strike slip faults. In particular, Jones' geometric model of kinematics and stress transfer through the crust indicates that many thrust faults are still active within the Bay Area. The implication of these findings is that more consideration should be given to assessing risks posed byvertical displacements of faults, as well as horizontal offsets. Faults with a principal component of vertical motion have been mapped by LBNL (2000) and others (USGS, 2007; Converse Consultants, 1984; Harding Lawson, 1979; and Lennert Associates, 1978), but little is known about their potential for thrust or down-dropping movements.

In Figure 12b, the location of the various faults shown previously in Figure 12a is shown relative to contaminant plume sites. As can be seen, every plume intersects at least one fault that has been mapped by either LBNL, its consultants, or by USGS (Figures 9a, 9b, 9c). When fault locations and the different bedrock contacts are shown in combination with the contaminant plume locations, as in Figure 12c and Figure 12d, a complex picture emerges, showing that numerous influences could be affecting groundwater transport and contaminant plume migration. In the latter two figures, it can be seen that faults and bedrock contacts do not necessarily coincide. If the complexity of geologic conditions at the contaminant plume sites is oversimplified, the extent and potential contaminant dispersement could be underestimated because monitoring wells were not placed at key positions along fault lines.

Landslide Mapping

Deep-seated and shallow landslides occur throughout the Berkeley Hills including Strawberry Canyon. Both artificial and natural mechanisms have contributed to increased rates of landslide activity in many areas. Land use activities in the hills can decrease slope stability by the action of grading large cuts or filling deep canyons to create flat areas for roads and buildings. Such grading operations interrupt surface and subsurface flow, and create impervious surfaces that increase runoff. The cuts remove lateral hillside support and convert groundwater flow to surface flow. The fills can increase the loading of a hillside and can increase or decrease groundwater saturation depending upon whether they are capped by an impervious surface and whether they are properly drained.

Triggers for initiating landslide movement can be artificial or natural. The natural triggering mechanisms can include intense or prolonged rainfall, greater than normal seasonal rainfall, earthquakes, or changes in mass balance from other landslides. Artificial triggers can include concentrated runoff from roads and other impervious surfaces, increased saturation from drain blockages, removal of root strength by deforestation, removal of lateral slope support, and increased loading of pre-existing slides by added weight of artificial fill.

Several landslide maps of Strawberry Canyon have been produced by different researchers, as shown in Figures 13a through 13e and Figure 13f. All maps show that numerous landslides have been mapped within the LBNL boundary, yet not all researchers agree on location, size, or types of landslides. Nor do all maps necessarily depict the same comparable landslide category. For example, some maps show colluvial deposits and some show colluvial hollows as source areas for shallow slides and/or landslide scars, for example Figure l3b versus Figure l3c.

Additionally, some maps group colluvium with fill, such as Figures 13a and 13b. Nonetheless, we expect that the brown polygons on map Figures l3a through l3e and the brown and purple ones in map Figure l3f all represent shallow to deep-seated landslide failures. Using historical and recent aerial photographs, the landslide features in Figure l3f were specifically mapped for this project and the slides therefore, are mapped relative to the historical topography and channel network as per Figure 5.

Figure 14 shows a compilation of the contaminant plumes with all the landslides and surficial mapping shown in Figures 13 a-e and Figure 13 f. The compilation shows general agreement about the existence of large landslides in Chicken Creek basin and East Canyon but the boundaries of individual landslides have poor overlap. Because Figure 14 becomes overwhelmed by landslide features that cover more than 50% of the LBNL property, it is too difficult to read the numerous overlapping polygons. We have therefore reduced the number of map overlays in Figure 15 to just three interpretations, Nielsen, LBNL, and Collins (Figures l3a, l3b, and Figure l3f.) We also eliminated the fill and colluvium shown in Figure 14, along mainstream Strawberry Creek that was mapped by Nielson and LBNL near of the UCB Memorial stadium in the southwest corner of the map.

Figure 14 and Figure15 indicate that all the contaminant plumes either lie fully within or intersect the boundaries of landslides. This means that in addition to the complexities already demonstrated by bedrock contacts and faults intersecting the plume boundaries, there is also high probability that landslide failure planes could further influence groundwater movement. Moreover, the developing picture of complexity signifies that groundwater can transfer along any number of pathways (bedrock contacts, faults and landslide failure planes) and in any order of combination. In addition, future interpretation of contaminant plume migration could be complicated by continued earthflow creep movement or significant surges in slide activity.

The deep-seated slides in Strawberry Canyon, shown in Figure l3e and Figure 15, in most cases tend to be slumps, earthflow, or complex earthflows that can involve movement of large intact blocks of bedrock and extend from ridge top to valley bottom. The complex slides can be characterized by multiple failure planes and zones of stability and instability that change after the mass balance is altered by renewed activity or by man-made changes during grading operations. In many cases, there is rotational movement near the crown scarp and the entire mass can slowly creep or move in sudden surges. These kinds of slides are often associated with clay-rich earth or bedrock. Perched water tables at the rotated head of the deposit can be common. Similarly, springs can typically be found where the failure plane near the toe of the slide verges toward the ground surface and converts its subsurface flow to overland flow. If contaminant plumes intersect landslides and travel along landslide failure planes, surface waters within seep gullies on the landslide or at the toe of the slide could also be at risk of contamination.

Shallow landslides in Strawberry Canyon, shown in Figures l3e and Figure 15, tend to be soil slips, debris slides, and debris flows, which typically occur on steep slopes and move typically at high rates of speed. They tend to be translational in movement and are often associated with soils or bedrock that is porous and not necessarily clay-rich. They often occur within colluvium-filled hollows. The debris flows can form alluvial fans at the base of their run-out pathways.

The head of East Canyon appears to have numerous alluvial fan deposits that might be overlaying a deep-seated earthflow within the Orinda Formation. The earthflow might be overlaying or obscuring fault traces. Alternatively, the earthflow might have been sheered by fault displacement. Interpretation of earthflow shear planes versus fault planes at the Wildcat Fault trench were an additional subject of contention between Garniss Curtis (UC Berkeley) and Steve Korbay (Harding Lawson Associates) during the investigation that was discussed earlier in this report. In 1993, Jones and Collins also had concerns about interpretations of earthflow failure planes versus faults in the Chicken Creek basin area when they observed road cut exposures together with UCB staff and geotechnical consultants.

Plume Monitoring Sites

A series of monitoring and water quality sampling wells were constructed at the plume sites during 1990s when contamination monitoring was first required by State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control as a condition of LBNL's Hazardous Waste Facility Operating Permit (issued in 1993). The criteria for establishing well locations came from historic data review for activities in each building at LBNL that could have potentially led, during normal operations, to dumping, spills and accidents prior to the existence of any environmental regulations and oversight. Figure 16 shows the location of all the wells, some of which LBNL has already closed, i.e. "properly destroyed" or is in the process of closing.

Additionally, Figure 16 shows the location of the wells relative to the contaminant plume boundaries mapped by LBNL. Although numerous wells are located within the plume boundaries delineated by LBNL, the perimeters are not constrained by active sampling wells, especially along the potential migration pathways of faults, drainage courses, utility and sewer trenches, (and other engineered backfill) and landslides, as demonstrated in Figure 17a (map legend is Figure l7b). Bedrock contacts between Moraga and Orinda Formations (Figure 8a and Figure 8b) are important, but were too complex to include in Figure 17a.

In order to adequately assess whether the monitoring wells are defining the actual contaminant plume boundaries, agreement on location of faults, bedrock contacts, and landslide boundaries is needed which is based upon well-founded information of what is actually known and what is hypothesized. Once improved mapping is accomplished at a higher resolution and accuracy than in the maps presented in this report, a strategy can then be developed to determine future locations of key sampling and monitoring sites. Until this is accomplished, there is reason for credible concern about contaminant plume boundaries and the groundwater monitoring program conducted to date by the LBNL.

Zones of Concern for Potential Plume Migration

Given the status of what is currently known, Zones of Concern for potential migration of contaminant plumes are delineated in Figure 18a (legend shown in Figure l8b). These are areas where contaminant migration might yet be undetected because of either insufficient placement of sampling wells or insufficient understanding and/or consideration of where bedrock contacts, faults, landslides, utility trenches, and current or historic drainages exist. These zones were based upon the compilations of many other researchers mapping of geology, and infrastructure. The compilation maps shown previously were used to define Zones of Concern because we do not have knowledge of which individual geology or landslide map is most accurate. Hence, the Zones of Concern should be considered suggestive of possible areas requiring further investigation.

The zones provide a graphic example of why either a better array of monitoring wells are needed and why a verifiable picture of the physical landscape is essential in Strawberry Canyon. Furthermore, potential surface water contamination is possible along drainages that intersect faults, landsides, and bedrock contacts that intersect contaminant plumes. An additional component of contaminant plume analysis not addressed in our project is the depth of contamination and subsurface geologic conditions. These require three dimensional analyses, which LBNL has shown on their GIS-based maps (LBNL 2000) that use as their foundation the geologic picture of Figure 7a and fault map of Figure 9a.

Future Development and Site Conditions

The LBNL presently occupies 202 acres, however by 2025 LBNL anticipates a net increase of occupied space of about 660,000 square feet, an increase of 1000 people, and up to 500 additional parking spaces (LBNL, 2007a). Figure 19 shows the tentative footprint of proposed future buildings in their Long Range Development Plan, which is available at The map shows about 30 new buildings dispersed throughout their property boundary. Much of the new construction is planned for areas previously avoided because of stability or fault issues. For example, the majority of the new construction will be located in the Chicken Creek basin and the East Canyon where deep-seated landslides have been mapped.

Figure 20a (map legend shown in Figure 20b) shows landslide hazard risks (as mapped by LBNL) and deep-seated landslides (as mapped on the historic drainage network in Figure 13f by Collins). Interestingly, the deep-seated slides are not considered areas of high to medium risk even though large-scale landslide movement could be triggered by large magnitude earthquakes on the Hayward Fault and many of the slides overlay or intersect faults. Many buildings are shown to straddle faults that occur on the deep-seated landslides. Various other compiled site conditions in Figure 20a are also shown at the proposed LBNL building sites including the known contaminant plume locations. Some of the new building sites would require grading within the plume locations, which could alter existing groundwater transport pathways, as well as require special handling of contaminated soils.

As planning proceeds, Environmental Impact Analyses will require geologic and environmental information. These required legal documents demonstrate additional future needs for integrated and comprehensive mapping efforts of geologic and environmental conditions in Strawberry Canyon. As more excavations and investigations are conducted, the opportunities will increase to make verifiable geologic maps showing actual bedrock, landslide, and fault exposures.


At the very least, it is important to identify where there is valid disagreement on geologic conditions, particularly at contaminant plume sites, to determine if these sites pose a threat to human health and safety. Specific investigations or well placed monitoring wells could be designed to resolve some of these issues. Without an improved understanding and portrayal of the geology in Strawberry Canyon, it is difficult to accept that the monitoring sites were specifically designed to detect potential movement of groundwater along intersecting faults, landslide failure planes, bedrock contacts, utility trenches, storm drains, and historic drainages.

If the complexity of geologic conditions at the contamination sites has been and continues to be oversimplified, and because monitoring wells were not placed at key locations along faults, utility trenches, old creek beds/seeps and other parameters that influence groundwater movement, the extent and dispersement of contaminants may have been, and will continue to be underestimated in the future. As development continues in the Strawberry Creek Watershed, and probabilities increase for more uncontrolled releases and contaminant spills, the need will also increase to have an improved and comprehensive base of understanding. Protection of human health and water quality should be a priority, requiring more than a conservative approach when trying to investigate the extent of toxic contamination in an urban environment.

  • An outside scientific technical review group should be formed to oversee LBNL's plume monitoring strategy and evaluate interpretations of plume migration.
  • The types of factors that influence groundwater flow that have been compiled on the maps in this report should be developed on a three dimensional GIS base map.
  • Information from previous consulting reports should be compiled to show the locations of verifiable bedrock outcrops, landslide deposits, landslide failure planes, and fault trace locations.
  • Confidence levels should be assigned to various features such as faults, bedrock contacts, landslides, and boundaries of plume contamination.
  • Future geologic investigations and excavation work in Strawberry Canyon should be required to show verifiable geologic exposures on the same base map and assign confidence levels to future interpretations.
  • Further investigation of the nature of faulting, geology, and landslides in Strawberry Canyon should be conducted.



FIGURE 1. Vicinity and Adjacent Land Use. Source: LBNL RCRA Facility Investigation Report, (also known as LBNL, 2000).
FIGURE 2. LBNL Site Map, Groundwater Contamination Plumes and Contaminated Soil Sites
FIGURE 3A. LBNL Buildings Source: LBNL, 2000
FIG 3B. Key to LBNL Buildings Shown in Figure 3A. Source: LBNL, 2000
FIGURE 4. Modern Drainage Network at LBNL in Strawberry Canyon
FIGURE 5. Interpretation of Historic Channel Network at LBNL in Strawberry Creek Watershed
FIGURE 7A. Bedrock Geology of LBNL (2000) FIGURE 7B. Geology of Strawberry Canyon Borg (1991)


We thank the Citizens' Monitoring and Technical Assessment Fund for supporting this project and the Urban Creeks Council for administering the grant. Gretchen Hayes is thanked for constructing many map overlays. Eric Edlund assisted with topographic base map production. Gene Bernardi, Roger Byrne, Claudia Carr, Jim Cunningham, Mark McDonald, and L A Wood are thanked for draft review, and Landis Bennett for posting the report on the web. Cover photograph courtesy of


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