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Earth Fissures

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What are earth fissures?

  • In general terms, fissures are long, narrow cracks or openings in the earth.
  • Earth fissures are associated with land subsidence that accompanies extensive ground water pumping.
  • Earth fissures may be more than a mile in length, up to 15 feet wide, and hundreds of feet deep.
  • During torrential rains they erode rapidly presenting a substantial hazard to people and infrastructure.
  • Fissures provide a ready conduit to deliver runoff and contaminated waters to basin aquifers.
  • Rapid population growth in central and southern Arizona is increasingly juxtaposing population centers and fissures.

What is the latest information?

  • In August 2005, a 1.5 mile long fissure in unincorporated Maricopa County (near Queen Creek) was reactivated as a result of heavy rains.
  • In response to that event, the Arizona Legislature passed legislation to map earth fissures in Arizona. House Bill 2639 charges the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) with the following:
  • On June 4, 2007 the AZGS released individual, 1:250,000 scale, earth fissure planning maps of Maricopa and Pinal counties with accompanying Open-File Report 07-01. The maps show all currently known earth fissures.
  • On April 23, 2008 the AZGS released 1:24,000 scale, detailed earth fissure maps for the Chandler Heights and Apache Junction areas. Many additional reports are now also available through AZGS.
  • On February 2, 2016 the AZGS released an updated 1:24,000 scale, detailed earth fissure maps for the Chandler Heights and Apache Junction areas.

Where can I get a copy of the map?

Planning Maps:

Detail/Study Area Maps:


Who should I contact for more information?

  • Joe Cook, Arizona Geological Survey (520-209-4140).
  • For questions specific to the Town: Chris Dovel, Town of Queen Creek (480-358-3003).