More earth fissures plague Q.C., Pinal area - East Valley Tribune: News

More earth fissures plague Q.C., Pinal area

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Posted: Friday, August 22, 2008 6:16 pm | Updated: 11:02 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

More dangerous earth fissures are popping up in the Queen Creek area. So the Arizona Geological Survey has already revised and reissued maps that were released just this past April of the area's dangerous cracks.

GRAPHIC: View a map of fissures in the area

SPECIAL REPORT: Buyers beware, does your area have fissures?

SLIDESHOW: Rain aggravates Queen Creek fissures

More dangerous earth fissures are popping up in the Queen Creek area. So the Arizona Geological Survey has already revised and reissued maps that were released just this past April of the area's dangerous cracks.

SPECIAL REPORT: Buyers beware, does your area have fissures?

SLIDESHOW: Rain aggravates Queen Creek fissures

Assessment shows effects of fissures

The revised maps of the Chandler Heights area, which includes portions of Queen Creek and unincorporated Pinal County, show more fissures have surfaced near the infamous "y-crack" fissure, near Hunt Highway and Sossaman Road, where a horse was swallowed up last summer.

Click to view a map of fissures in the area
Fissure update, Continuous earth fissure, Discontinuous earth fissure, Reported, unconfirmed earth fissure, Just months after the Arizona Geological Survey released earth fissure maps for the Chandler Heights area, more fissures have been added. Monsoon rains have exposed more of the cracks, especially near the

The maps also show new cracks adjacent to Goldmine Equestrian Estates in Queen Creek.

Fissures are cracks in the earth caused by groundwater pumping. Geological survey officials call them "serious geological hazards" and say they are found in the valleys of central and south-central Arizona. Pinal County is home to three-quarters of the state's known earth fissures.

Heavy rains and surface runoff during the monsoon season can turn a barely visible crack in the earth into a 20-foot deep, steep-walled gully that can threaten homes, cut across roadways and endanger humans and animals.

Maps show there are more than 200 earth fissures in the Chandler Heights area.

Mike Conway, with the Arizona Geological Survey, said the new cracks aren't a surprise.

"We suspected there were more fissures there, but they had been covered over by either construction or road grading," he said. "They weren't evident during original mapping, but the monsoon rains caused them to open. We suspected they were there all along."

Local activist Silvia Centoz, who lives in unincorporated Maricopa County just outside Queen Creek, has long told people about the dangerous cracks in the earth and has pushed for mandatory disclosure to protect property owners and homebuyers in the area.

"It's disclosure in the right direction," Centoz said. "I'm just glad that the AZGS is doing everything that they can to bring the maps up to snuff. We still have a few places where we have hidden or buried fissures that are still going to surface. I hope that in time those will get added to map."

As part of the statewide fissure mapping project, Conway said geologists will continue to add fissures to the released maps. This week, the survey released new maps of Mesa and Scottsdale.

Conway said they are planning to release maps of Luke Air Force Base in the West Valley and the Picacho Peak area in Pinal County where the first earth fissure in the state was discovered.

The mapping project was mandated by 2006 legislation as a way to improve disclosure of properties affected by earth fissures.

Arizona Department of Real Estate officials have said the updated information is listed in public reports filed with the agency, and the dangerous cracks can be avoided or mitigated.

As part of the 2006 legislation, people who have fissures on their properties must disclose them.

To view the updated maps and download them for free, visit the geological survey's Fissure Earth Center online at www.azgs.az.gov/efmaps.shtml.

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