Field Trip - Caldecott Tunnel

To apply students’ understanding of the rock cycle and basic principles of stratigraphy, I brought my students to the Caldecott Tunnel to investigate the local geology and piece together the geologic history of their backyard. The east side of the tunnel has an easily accessed road cut that displays a gorgeous example of a contact between older sedimentary rock layers and a more recent volcanic layer. The whole thing has been folded and faulted by the actions of the Hayward Fault, and thus the layers are no longer horizontal but at a sharp diagonal. My students drew pictures of the northern cliff face on the Orinda side of the tunnel then each student was assigned a rock layer to study in detail. When we got back to the classroom, we reassembled the data on the whiteboard, and made theories about the sequence of events that would bring about the rock layers we observed in the cliff. Finally, students drew pictures of what the area must have looked like at different parts of the timeline. This field trip led gracefully into the next segment of the unit on geologic time.

Caldecott Tunnel - north roadcut
Photograph of the northern roadcut face at the Caldecott Tunnel from the field trip “Caldecott Tunnel between Oakland and Orinda” by Russell W. Graymer in "The Geology and Natural History of the San Francisco Bay Area: A Field-Trip Guidebook", edited by Philip W. Stoffer and Leslie C. Gordon.


Can describe the environments in which different sedimentary rocks are formed
Can apply Steno’s 3 laws of stratigraphy to rock layers in the real world
Can apply the laws of stratigraphy to describe the relative age of rock layers, even when the layers have been disturbed
Can use field data to recreate the geologic history of the Berkeley hills
Can make hypotheses about the probable cause of transitions between 1 rock layer and another

Law of Original Horizontality
Law of Superposition
Law of Lateral Continuity
Depositional Environment

Caldecott Tunnel - Logistics

Caldecott Tunnel - Background

Caldecott Tunnel - Getting Ready

Caldecott Tunnel - Lesson Plan

Caldecott Tunnel - Sources and Standards