I. HISTORY   §2.1

II. LABORATORY A. Location   §2.2

Figure 2-1: San Francisco Bay Area Map

Figure 2-2: Vicinity Map

Figure 2-3: Adjacent Land Use

Figure 2-4: Space Distribution

B. Population and Space Distribution   §2.3

C. Water Supply   §2.4
A. Meteorology   §2.5

Figure 2-5: Temperature Summary by Month

Figure 2-6: Annual Wind Patterns

Figure 2-7: Precipitation Summary by Month

B. Vegetation   §2.6

Figure 2-8: Vegetation Types

C. Wildlife   §2.7

D. Geology   §2.8

E. Hydrogeology   §2.9

§2.1      I. HISTORY

Berkeley Lab was founded by Ernest O. Lawrence in 1931 on the Berkeley campus of the University of California. Winner of the 1939 Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the cyclotron (particle accelerator), Lawrence is generally credited with the modern concept of interdisciplinary science, in which scientists, engineers, and technicians from different fields work together on complex scientific projects directed at national needs and programs. Lawrence’s pioneering work established a great tradition of scientific inquiry and discovery at the Laboratory, leading to the awarding of Nobel Prizes to eight other Berkeley Lab scientists.

The Laboratory supports work in such diverse fields as fundamental physics, energy conservation technology, materials science, structural biology, medical imaging, and advanced battery technologies. Through its fundamental research in these fields, Berkeley Lab has achieved international recognition for its leadership and made numerous contributions to national programs. Its research embraces the DOE mission concepts of exploring the complexity of energy and matter, advancing the science for abundant clean energy, understanding energy impacts on our living planet, and providing extraordinary tools for multidisciplinary research.

Since its beginning, Berkeley Lab has been managed by the University of California. Numerous Berkeley Lab scientists are faculty members on the campuses of either UC Berkeley or UC San Francisco. They and other Berkeley Lab researchers guide the work of graduate students pursuing their advanced degrees through research at the Laboratory. High school students and teachers, as well as college and graduate students, also participate in many Berkeley Lab programs designed to enhance science education both locally and nationally.

              II. LABORATORY

§2.2      A. Location

Berkeley Lab is located 8 kilometers (5 miles) east of San Francisco Bay (see Figure 2-1) on 479 hectares (1,183 acres) of land owned by the University of California. The Laboratory’s 80-hectare (200-acre) main site is under long-term lease to DOE.

The main site lies in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus, on the ridges and draws of Blackberry Canyon (which forms the central part of the site) and Strawberry Canyon (which forms the southern boundary), with elevations ranging from 200 to 330 meters (650 to 1,000 feet) above sea level. The western portion of the site is in Berkeley, with the eastern portion in Oakland. See Figure 2-2. The population of Berkeley is estimated at 108,000 and Oakland at 387,000.

Figure 2-1      San Francisco Bay Area Map

Figure 2-2      Vicinity Map

Adjacent land use consists of residential, institutional, and recreation areas. See Figure 2-3. The area to the south and east, which is University land, is maintained largely in a natural state and includes UC Berkeley’s recreational facilities and Botanical Garden. Northeast of the Laboratory are the University’s Lawrence Hall of Science, Space Sciences Institute, and Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. Berkeley Lab is bordered on the north by single-family homes and on the west by the UC Berkeley campus as well as multiunit dwellings, student residence halls, and private homes. The area to the west of Berkeley Lab is highly urbanized.

Figure 2-3      Adjacent Land Use

§2.3      B. Population and Space Distribution

Almost 3,000 scientists and support personnel work at Berkeley Lab’s main site. In addition, the Laboratory typically hosts 1,900 guests each year, who use its unique scientific facilities for varying lengths of time. Approximately 750 of these guests work on site at any one time. Berkeley Lab also supports 300 scientists and staff at off-site locations, including Walnut Creek and Washington, D.C. About 300 of the Laboratory’s scientists serve as faculty members at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco.

Berkeley Lab research and support activities are conducted in structures having a total area of 186,000 gross square meters (2-million gross square feet). Eighty-seven percent of this space is on the main site, 3% is on the UC Berkeley campus (i.e., Donner and Calvin laboratories), and the remaining 10% is located in various other off-site buildings. There are 80 permanent buildings and 107 trailers and temporary buildings on the main site. Figure 2-4 shows the Berkeley Lab space distribution.

Figure 2-4      Space Distribution

§2.4      C. Water Supply

All the Laboratory’s domestic water is supplied by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). There are no drinking water wells on site.

Domestic water originates in Sierra Nevada watershed lands before being transported to the Bay Area and ultimately to Berkeley Lab through a system of lakes, aqueducts, treatment plants, and pumping stations. EBMUD tests for contaminants and meets disinfection standards required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. In spring 1998, EBMUD converted from chlorine to chloramine as a disinfection agent throughout its supply area. The use of chloramine enables EBMUD drinking water to meet more stringent Safe Drinking Water Act standards for disinfection byproducts.

The water supply system is highly reliable for both domestic use and emergency purposes. This reliability is ensured by two separate connections to EBMUD’s Shasta and Berkeley View sources and two 760,000-liter (200,000-gallon) on-site storage tanks. All Laboratory water is supplied by gravity feed. The entire system has sufficient capacity to meet the flow-rate and duration requirements for fire protection.


§2.5      A. Meteorology

Characterized as Mediterranean, the climate at the site is influenced by the moderating effects of nearby San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean to the west and the sheltering effects of the hills that stretch along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay. These physical barriers contribute significantly to the site’s relatively cool, dry summers and warm, wet winters. The mean annual temperature for 1998 was 11.8° C (53.2° F). The yearly extremes ranged from a high of 33.4° C (92° F) on August 3 to a low of –2.6° C (27° F) on December 21. Figure 2-5 traces the monthly temperature extremes for the year, recorded at the on-site weather station.

Figure 2-5      Temperature Summary by Month

On-site wind patterns change little from one year to the next. The most common wind pattern occurs when larger-scale high-pressure systems block storm currents from reaching the area. This condition results in daytime westerly winds blowing off the Bay and moderating temperatures east of the hills in the interior valleys. Nighttime winds ordinarily reverse direction, driven by lighter southeasterly drainage winds that originate in the East Bay hills.

The other predominant wind pattern occurs when storm systems pass through the region. These systems arise most frequently during the winter months. South to southeast winds pass over the site before storms, shifting to the west or northwest after passage of each storm. A graphical summary of the annual wind patterns, called a windrose, illustrates the frequency of the two predominant patterns. The windrose for 1998 is displayed in Figure 2-6. The average wind speed for the year was 2.1 meters per second (4.7 miles per hour). The maximum wind speed during 1998 occurred on February 7, when winds gusted to nearly 25 meters per second (more than 55 miles per hour).

Figure 2-6      Annual Wind Patterns

Yearly precipitation is totaled over a period called the water year, which runs from October 1 to the following September 30. The storms of the winter months produce nearly all the precipitation that the Laboratory receives during the water year. The average annual precipitation at the site since the 1974–1975 water year is about 71 centimeters (28 inches). For the last five water years, which includes the record-setting 1997–1998 El Niño period when nearly 152 centimeters (60 inches) of precipitation fell, annual precipitation has been above normal. The annual average precipitation since 1993–1994 has been 98 centimeters (38 inches). Figure 2-7 compares 1998 monthly precipitation totals to the average since 1974.

Figure 2-7      Precipitation Summary by Month

§2.6      B. Vegetation

In its maintenance and landscaping efforts, Berkeley Lab’s vegetation management program reinforces native vegetation and avoids disruption of outlying natural habitats wherever possible. Because visual screening of the Laboratory is an important community objective, the Laboratory works to maintain and renew groves of nonnative trees that are important to this screening effect. No rare, threatened, or endangered species of plants are present on the site. See Figure 2-8.

Figure 2-8      Vegetation Types

Berkeley Lab updated and intensified its fire management efforts after the October 1991 fire in the Berkeley/Oakland Hills to the south. The Laboratory used natural successional trends of existing vegetation to reduce fire risks.

Berkeley Lab also works with the Hills Emergency Forum (made up of the neighboring cities of Berkeley and Oakland, the East Bay Regional Park District, the East Bay Municipal Utility District, and UC Berkeley) to improve vegetation management of the urban-wildland interface in the larger area.

§2.7      C. Wildlife

Wildlife is abundant in the area surrounding Berkeley Lab because the site is adjacent to open spaces managed by the East Bay Regional Park District and the University of California. Berkeley Lab’s grasses and brushlands provide cover, food, and breeding sites for wildlife typical of disturbed (e.g., previously grazed) areas with a Mediterranean climate located in mid-latitude California. Over 120 species of birds, mammals, and reptiles/amphibians—none of which is rare, threatened, or endangered—exist on the site. The most abundant large mammal is the Columbian blacktail deer. The Laboratory's tree stands offer nesting and cover sites for many resident and migratory species of birds.

§2.8      D. Geology

Berkeley Lab is underlain by sedimentary and volcanic rocks between the Hayward Fault and the Wildcat Fault. The active Hayward Fault, a branch of the San Andreas Fault System, trends northwest-to-southeast along the base of the hills at the Laboratory's western edge. The inactive Wildcat Fault traverses the site north to south along the canyon at the Laboratory's eastern edge. Shorter, apparently inactive, subsidiary faults also transect the Laboratory.

Landsliding, paleotopography, interbedding, faulting, and tilting of the sedimentary and volcanic rocks underlying the site have created a complex geological structure. Three geologic formations underlie the majority of the site:

The Miocene Claremont Formation and San Pablo Group are two additional geologic formations found on site, but they underlie only the far easternmost area. The Claremont Formation consists of chert and shale. The San Pablo Group consists of marine sandstones.

Weathered detritus from the rock formations underlying the site has accumulated as soil deposits. These deposits are generally two to several meters thick throughout the site. Because of the hilly terrain, grading and filling have been necessary to provide suitable building sites. Consequently, cuts up to tens of meters deep have been made, and fills up to tens of meters thick have been placed.

During the past 20 years, the Laboratory has carried out a successful program of slope stabilization to reduce the risk of property damage caused by potential soil movement. This program includes shallow dewatering wells, vegetation cover, and soil retention structures.

§2.9      E. Hydrogeology

Hydrogeology at Berkeley Lab is complex. Year-round springs, annual surface seeps, and variable water levels in observation wells indicate discontinuous and localized aquifers. These conditions are caused by a number of factors. The various rock units underlying the site have different permeabilities. Volcanic rocks are typically fractured, readily allowing groundwater to flow, while sedimentary rocks consist of interbedded impervious claystones and siltstones and include moderate-permeability sandstones. Orinda Formation sandstones are discontinuous and probably exist primarily as channel fillings in the claystones and siltstones. The relationship between high-permeability volcanic rocks and low-permeability sedimentary rocks is complex because of landsliding and paleotopography.

Groundwater flow is a concern at the Laboratory because of its potential effect on slope stability as well as the underground movement of potential contaminants. Hydraulic conductivity is a term used to describe how fast groundwater can move through a medium such as volcanic rock. Hydraulic conductivity in the three major geologic formations is as follows:

The fractured bedrock underlying Berkeley Lab allows percolation that augments groundwater. The complex geology at the Laboratory results in water-table depths that vary from 0 to 30 meters (98 feet) below the surface across the site.