(Feb. 3, 2016) Tucson, AZ – The Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) continues to map, monitor, and inform the public regarding earth fissures in south-central and southeastern Arizona. Six freshly revised earth fissure maps are now available for parts of Maricopa, Pinal and Cochise Counties. A single new earth fissure map for just east of the Picacho Mountains in Pinal County was issued.

Updated earth fissure study area maps, include: Luke and Chandler Heights in Maricopa County; Picacho and Friendly Corners (3 map sheets) and Santa Rosa Wash in Pinal County; and North Sulphur Springs Valley and Dragoon Road study areas in Cochise County.

The maps and digital data are available at the Natural Hazards of Arizona viewer. Individual fissure study area maps are online at the Arizona Geological Survey’s Online Document Repository. A Google Earth .kmz file is available for viewing the fissures on Google Earth.

In 2006, legislation was passed requiring all earth fissures in the state be mapped. A.R.S. §37-173.
In 2007, the Arizona Geological Survey began publishing a series of maps of known or reported earth
fissures. Pursuant to A.R.S. §32-2117, a subdivider, seller or broker is not liable for any act or failure to
act in connection with the disclosure of property subject to earth fissures if they provide a written disclosure or include notice in a public report, with respect to real estate subject to earth fissures, of the map and its location on the ADRE website. See the unreported case, Etzenhouser v. Baker, 2009 WL 1608443 (Ariz. App. Div. 2) (buyer’s claims against seller and broker arising from a property that developed earth fissures dismissed pursuant to A.R.S. §32-2117). The fissure map disclosure is contained in the AAR SPDS forms.
     – Arizona Real Estate: A Professional’s Guide to Law and Practice by AAR CEO K. Michelle Lind, Esq.

All new or revised earth fissure maps employ a base map displaying National Agriculture Imagery Program aerial photography and, when available, a local subsidence map, provided courtesy of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

A new fissure line category (yellow lines) portrays select fissures as confirmed that were otherwise not mapped by AZGS’ fissure mapping team. These include fissures mapped by reliable sources and those identified on multiple aerial photographs. Previously, if fissures could not be identified during field checks, the fissure was reported as unconfirmed.

Besides posing a threat to infrastructure, fissures are frequently used for illegal dumping of tires, appliances, construction debris, manure and other sundry items. Because fissures extend downward towards the groundwater table, they represent a potential conduit for surface runoff to contaminate aquifer resources.

AZGS’s earth fissure mapping team will continue to monitor existing earth fissures and map new ones as they form. AZGS geologists collaborate with hydrologists from the Arizona Dept. of Water Resources to better understand where and when fissures will occur, and with local environmental and geological engineers on ways to mitigate and minimize the impact of earth fissures.

AZGS Contact: Michael Conway | 520.209.4146 | michael.conway@azgs.az.gov

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