Crack along Sunset Cliffs getting bigger - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Crack along Sunset Cliffs getting bigger

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Geologists and lifeguards are keeping a close eye on a bluff at Sunset Cliffs that is in danger of collapsing. 

A large crack appeared after the recent El Niño storms, and now a barrier is up to keep the public away. 

“For cliff's stability, water is a villain," said San Diego State University Professor Emeritus Pat Abbott, Ph.D.

To get a better look at the crack Dr. Abbott climbed down to the fracture.

“Heavy rains have saturated the ground more with rain, which makes the cliffs weaker and heavier. We have high tides right now. We have big storm waves, surf coming in,” he said.

Dr. Abbott said the fracture in the rocks is not so much from the record drought rather from El Niño rains, and with sea caves below, he points out how Point Loma’s rock sluffs away.

“A lot of these rocks are made of clay minerals. When they get wet they lose strength, so we have the added problem here of weaker rocks to begin with," he said.

The cracks are causing a danger for students hanging out on the rocks and surfers in the water.

“I'm scared to fall so I don't ever get down,” said Laura Martinez, a Spring Valley resident visiting Sunset Cliffs.

Martinez said she stays behind the “unstable cliffs” warning signs.

According to Dr. Abbott, the El Niño rains, the high surf and the bluffs down San Diego’s coast are creating more dangers for people taking in the spectacular views.

“As a scientist we know a lot, but a lot of what we know is common sense. When you look there and you see this huge fracture running parallel to the cliff base that tells you something, that piece of cliff is pulling away. Stay back, don't go near," he said.

Lifeguards said they have also notified the city geologist who will be checking out the fractured bluff.

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