Three bedrock knobs (Arch, Harding, and Shag rocks) rise above the unconsolidated sediment of central San Francisco Bay to a water depth of less than -12 m (<-39.4 ft MLLW). These rocks are within the westbound vessel traffic area, and the northernmost, Harding Rock, is ~300 m (984 ft) from the two-way deep water traffic lane. The rocks pose a hazard to deep-draft vessels. Large ships with drafts deeper than -17 m (-55.8 ft) cross central San Francisco Bay bound for and returning from major port cities of the Bay estuary. Acoustic profiling data show that bedrock extends at a gentle to moderate slope away from the knobs. These data also show that two of the knobs, Harding and Shag, may be part of a bedrock ridge that extends to Alcatraz Island and perhaps southeast to Blossom Rock. The tops of these rocks should be lowered to a depth of -17 m (-55.8 ft), with a total volume of as much as 245,000 m3 (320,460 yd3), at an estimated cost of nearly 27 million dollars, to eliminate the possibility that a tanker would strike one and rupture. A resulting large oil spill would likely cost many times more than the 10 million dollars needed to clean up a small 1996 spill. If the rocks were removed, local habitat for striped bass and other game fish would be altered, with potential negative impact on sport fishing. Currently, public officials are studying the benefits to the Bay environment of lowering the rock knobs.
Additional publication details
Bedrock knobs, San Francisco Bay: Do navigation hazards outweigh other environment problems?