The Arizona Geological Survey has been busy mapping the many earth fissures in Arizona. Most earth fissures occur in the corridor between Tucson and Phoenix, and from Phoenix west along interstate 10 (see map below).
Earth fissures develop from soil compaction associated with extensive pumping of groundwater. The fissures range in width from a few inches to tens of feet. Length of the fissures ranges from hundreds of feet to miles.
These fissures pose danger to cattle, wildlife, and unwary humans. The presence or possibility of a fissure-prone area also has implications for municipal planners, developers, highways, and railroads. And, because they tend to develop perpendicular to surface drainage, they can capture runoff and develop into large gullies.
The gateway to the Survey’s many maps and reports is the Earth Fissure Viewer, an interactive map that allows you to zoom in on areas and get detailed maps. Maps, reports, and photos are also available at the Survey’s Earth Fissure Center.