|Sea stacks at Bodega Head, with the Point Reyes peninsula in the distance|
Bodega Head refers to the former island of granitic rock that is now connected to the mainland by a large area of active and stabilized sand dunes. Bodega Bay formed between the head and the mainland, and is nearly closed off on the south side by a sand spit along Doran Beach. A small marina is here and a modest fishing fleet works out of the harbor.
|No, this isn't a bird attack at Bodega, but I sure thought about it while I was snapping this shot of Red-wing Blackbirds at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge near Los Banos in the Central Valley.|
One may not know Bodega for the geology, but there are those who will remember Bodega Bay as the setting for a rather famous movie about our avian friends, The Birds, Alfred Hitchcock's classic. The original house where many scenes were shot is gone now, but the cypress grove where the house stood can be seen on the sand bar that connects the Head to the mainland. The land is owned today by the University of California, which runs a research facility at the site (occasional tours are offered).
Bodega Head has a horror story that may be the equal of an unexplained attack by our feathered companions. The rock sequence found east of the San Andreas fault is part of the Franciscan Complex, and these rocks are notorious for their slope-failure tendencies. Mass wasting is a way of life for anyone who chooses to build on it. Bodega Head on the other hand is composed of hard granitic rock. No slope failures would be expected there.
|The Hole in the Head|
So it was that in the 1950s that PG&E looked with great longing at the granite headland and decided that Bodega Head would be an ideal spot for a brand new nuclear power plant. The water they needed was there, there was solid ground to build on in contrast with the lousy slopes east of the fault in the Franciscan Complex. And not that they thought of things this way back then, but the site was fairly isolated from large population centers in case of bad accidents (which we all know NEVER happen with nuclear power plants).
local opposition began to grow, and ultimately the company somehow realized they were about to put a nuclear reactor practically on top of the San Andreas fault (subsidiary faults were discovered in the excavation pit; a geologist opined that “a worse foundation condition would be tough to envision.”). The pit became known as the "Hole in the Head".
And so ends our little series of a part of the Sierra Nevada mountains that rise from the sea. I hope those of you who've followed it enjoyed the journey. I'll be putting up a compilation of the different posts in the series since it has been a rather off and on project over the last three months!