a virtual fieldtrip - by Alan A. Lew


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The California Coast & Fault Lines

Near Bodega Bay north of San Francisco

Queen Anne Victorian architecture in Eureka, California


From left to right Sequoia Redwood (oldest trees), Coast Redwood (tallest trees), Douglas Fir, Port Orford Cedar, Sitka Spruce

Confusion Hill in the Coast Redwoods of Northern California

Major Fault Lines in California

San Francisco Bay, Coast Range, Sacramento Delta and northern San Joaquin Valley

Hayward Fault on the east side of San Francisco Bay

Lakes south on the San Francisco peninsula south of the 'City' mark the San Andreas Fault line.

San Francisco Bay, with Santa Cruz at the bottom of the image; the lake above can be seen as a black line separating the red (vegetation covered) hills the more grayish developed areas. The Delta area is flooded in this image.

Building renovation following a major earthquake in San Francisco

Some of the colorful street life of San Francisco

The Central Valley

View of the Sierra Nevada from near Sacramento in the middle of the Central Valley. The fields are mostly rice.

The Sacramento Valley, with the Sacramento River in flood, north of Sacramento. The round circular mountain is the Sierra Buttes, which lies in the middle of the valley between the Sierra Nevada Range (upper right corner of image) and the Coast Range (lower left corner of image).

Old Town Sacramento, on the banks of the Sacramento River, was a derelict part of town until major renovations were begun in the early 1970s. Today it is a major tourist attraction.


Locke, California is the only rural Chinatown remaining in the US. In the later 1800s, the Sacramento Delta area was dotted with pagodas and Chinese settlements as the region is very similar to the rice growing areas of southern China. Residents of Locke have resisted developing their community into a tourist attraction.

Looking east at the San Joaquin Valley from the cattle pens near Coalinga. Your nose knows when you pass this point on the Interstate 5 freeway.

Mount Shasta in northern California -- north of the Central Valley. Mount Shasta is part of the Cascade Range (which is why I put it here instead of in the next section). Like most other Cascade Range volcanoes, magma regularly moves deep inside Mount Shasta causing many small earthquakes.

The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range

The Sierra Nevadas were deeply carved by alpine glaciers during the last ice age. A deep east-west glacial valley can be seen in the middle of this photo. Mono Lake can barely be seen near the top middle of the photograph.

Half Dome in Yosemite Valley. The sheer face of Half Dome was carved by an alpine glacier.

Glaciers created the sharp and jagged ridgelines of exposed granite in the Sierra Nevadas. Granite is an intrusive igneous formation that is now exposed due to the erosion of sedimentary rock that once covered the Sierras.

Infrared image of the Sierra Nevada Range, highlighting Lake Tahoe. The western foothills are covered in dense forests and many small reservoirs can be seen. The eastern slope is gray due to the dry rainshadow conditions, although some irrigated fields can be seen.

On the western slopes of the Sierras in California's 'Gold Country'

Tourism is the major industry for most former mining towns in the foothills of the Sierras

On the shores of Lake Tahoe in Winter

Emerald Bay is glacier carved section of Lake Tahoe (this is a summer shot)

Los Angeles and Southern California

The Los Angeles Basin

Earthquake damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake (6.7 Richter scale)

Temporary buildings at California State University, Northridge a year after the quake hit

Downtown Los Angeles

Modern art in downtown Los Angeles


Selling sushi and other goodies in Japantown

Plastic pizza at the Japantown Shakey's Pizza

Olivera Street - this old Hispanic district is a tourist trap today

Broadway - the new Hispanic core, near downtown Los Angeles

Lively street life on Broadway


Warehouse shopping, Chinatown-style

The Chinese like their poultry fresh.

Monterey Park is a new, suburban Chinatown. Monterey Park attracts a broader range of Chinese and Asians than the older Chinatown.  Sumitomo Bank is Japanese and Taiwanese tend to predominate in Monterey Park.

Santa Clause in Disneyland at Christmas

Globalization in Venice Beach

San Diego

Horton Plaza, downtown San Diego. Horton Plaza was one of the first amusement park-like shopping centers in the US, and a major source of revitalization in downtown San Diego. Today, amusement themes have become common in the older downtown areas of most American cities.

Imperial Valley and the Salton Sea. The border with Mexico is clearly seen in the lower right corner of this infrared image; the color difference is due to the lack of water on the Mexico side. The Imperial Valley is the single richest agricultural region in the US due to its warm sunshine, good soils and irrigated water from the Colorado River. San Diego lies to the west of the red (and heavily faulted) coast range mountains.

Sea level in the Imperial Valley -- most of which is below sea level.

Sunset on the Pacific Ocean

* All photos copyright by Alan A. Lew, (2002, All rights reserved), except those marked by an asterisk (*) which come from other sources.