The Arizona landscape is a beautiful and bedazzling collage of mountains, valleys, canyons, plateaus, mesas, rivers, washes, and volcanoes. But the natural features that make Arizona so magnificent are rife with geologic hazards that threaten Arizonans and their property. To assist homeowners – and home buyers – in understanding the nature and scope of geologic hazards throughout the State, the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) is providing free a suite of publications that we refer to as “The Homeowner's Online Guide to Geologic Hazards in Arizona.”
In 2002, AZGS geoscientists, Ray Harris and Phil Pearthree, set out to identify geologic hazards that threaten Arizona property. They explored the geologic literature, examined maps, and conducted field investigations. Their efforts resulted in, A Home Buyer’s Guide to Geologic Hazards in Arizona, describing the geologic hazards common to Arizona: floods, earth fissures and subsidence, earthquakes, debris flows, landslides, karst formations, swelling or collapsing soils, and even volcanic eruptions.
The Home Buyer’s Guide is one of three AZGS publications comprising this online compendium of resources. The second, “Radon: A Geologic Hazard in Arizona,” was published in 1992 by AZGS Senior Geoscientist, Jon Spencer. It is a marvelous primer on the origin and hazards of radon gas, which is second only to tobacco as a cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Spencer uses maps, graphs, and descriptive text to finger radon hot spots in Arizona.
The third publication, “Land Subsidence and Earth Fissures in Arizona” was written by geologist Steven Slaff. Subsidence is a growing problem in the valleys of south-central Arizona. Slaff draws on maps, photos, line drawings, and an easy-to-read text to illustrate how and why subsidence occurs. If you want to understand this anthropogenic-caused geologic problem, and its byproduct – earth fissures, this is the place to start.
This online guide is part of our continuing effort to inform the Arizona public about geologic hazards that could impact their lives. These publications, now available as PDF downloads, describe Arizona’s major geologic hazards and include maps to show where these hazards are prevalent.
We hope this information assists homeowners, home buyers, builders/developers, real estate agents, and others.