VIPs and media tour drill site along the San Andreas Fault

Photo: L.A. Cicero Mark Zoback

Stanford geophysics Professor Mark Zoback (left), SAFOD principal investigator, discusses the drilling effort with Leonard Johnson (center) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Monterey), whose district includes Parkfield. SAFOD is a major component of EarthScope, an NSF initiative to study the geological forces that shape North America


Scientists, politicians and reporters were given a rare tour of the EarthScope San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) in Parkfield, Calif., on Sept. 2. Drilling began last June, led by a research team from Stanford and the U.S. Geological Survey. Invited guests toured the 200-foot-tall SAFOD drilling rig, which is located on the Pacific tectonic plate about 1.2 miles west of the San Andreas Fault. When completed, the 2-mile-deep observatory will pass directly through the fault from the Pacific plate into the North American plate, giving scientists a unique opportunity to monitor seismic events within an active earthquake zone.