Boulder Threatens Homes, PCH

Firemen attempt to dislodge a thirty-foot high, twelve-hundred ton boulder which looms over PCH just south of Big Rock. Photo by Michael Ashington-Pickett

A twelve-hundred ton boulder just south of Big Rock looms above Pacific Coast Highway leaving residents and emergency workers concerned. “When it slid, there were some rocks preceding [the boulder],” said Caltrans Geologist Jeremy Lancaster. “The rock is placing weight on those rocks and the retaining wall.”

Part of the wall has already split in one section and although the wall is reinforced with steel beams, Caltrans and local emergency workers are watching the area closely. Homes across the road from the boulder have already been declared unsafe and PCH will remain closed until further notice.

Firemen attempted to move the rock using 600 gallons of water per minute through pressure hoses but smaller mudslides fell under the rock, preventing it from falling. Gustavo Ortega, the District Geologist for Caltrans, said blasting the rock with dynamite would be too dangerous for nearby homes and crewmen.

Instead, excavators will build a ramp behind the retaining wall to the boulder and use jackhammers to break the rock into smaller pieces. Work on the ramp and breakup of the boulder is expected to begin around 7:00 am on Thursday, according to Ortega.

As of Wednesday evening PCH is closed to all traffic between Big Rock and Topanga Canyon. Topanga Canyon Malibu Canyon are closed due to mudslides. Kanan road is open, but expect heavy delays. Call Caltrans for road closure updates at 213-897-3656 or check the city of Malibu Web site at