They can start as a small little ripple in the desert crust. A little bit of rain can trigger an earth fissure to tear open a crack large enough to swallow a car.

Fissures are a southwestern phenomenon aggravated by our need for water. Underground water tables hold up the earth above. As we pump out the water the earth has nothing to support it and collapses on top of itself creating a fissure. The on -going drought and constant demand for water has lowered the water table below compounding the fissure problem.

The Arizona Geological Survey has been tasked with mapping all known fissures in Maricopa, Pima, Pinal and Cochise counties in the next 5 years. The survey team recently released preliminary planning maps and have made them available to the public. Maps can be purchased for $4 at 1502 W. Washington in Phoenix. The Arizona Geological Survey hopes to have detailed street level maps available within the next month.

If you are considering buying property in a rural desert area ask the seller if there are any known fissures on the property. The seller is required by Arizona law to disclose such information. If the seller is unaware of any fissure problems do your research and check the Arizona Geological Survey maps or hire a geotechnical engineer to survey the land before you buy. Fissures can be filled in but will never go away.