The History of Oakland, Told Through Its Geology

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map of Oakland
 (Illustration by Laura Cunningham)

Every city sits where it does for geological reasons, be that suitable terrain, availability of water or other natural resources, good climate or beautiful scenery. In the case of Oakland, it was all of these things. Since the original inhabitants, the Ohlones, Oakland has attracted settlers for its landscape, beauty and resources, each of which has a connection with its distinctive geology.  But as much as the physical terrain shaped Oakland’s development into a bustling city, the people who resided in the East Bay have molded the land right back. As geologist Andrew Alden explores in his book “Deep Oakland: How Geology Shaped a City,” geologic history is a dramatic entanglement of people and place. We’ll talk with Alden about his new book and how the Bay Area’s geology forms the blueprint for our society.


Andrew Alden, geologist, writer, photographer, and geological tour guide. His latest book is “Deep Oakland: How Geology Shaped a City.”