Faulting & Folding (Foam Faults Demo)

5min 57s Novice

How can we model faulting in the classroom?

Video lecture demonstrates the use of foam faults to demonstrate faults, and a deck of cards to demonstrate folds and fabrics in rock layers. Different types of faults include: normal (extensional) faults; reverse or thrust (compressional) faults; and strike-slip (shearing) faults.



  • How can I demonstrate plate tectonic principles in the classroom?
  • What forces are acting on the earth that result in different types of faults?
  • Can you name the three basic types of faults?
  • Is a reverse fault caused by compression, extension or shearing?

Related Animations

In a normal fault, the block above the fault moves down relative to the block below the fault. This fault motion is caused by extensional forces and results in extension. Other names: normal-slip fault, tensional fault or gravity fault. Examples: Sierra Nevada/Owens Valley; Basin & Range faults.

Animation Novice

In a reverse fault, the block above the fault moves up relative to the block below the fault. This fault motion is caused by compressional forces and results in shortening. A reverse fault is called a thrust fault if the dip of the fault plane is small. Other names: thrust fault, reverse-slip fault or compressional fault]. Examples: Rocky Mountains, Himalayas.

Animation Novice

In a strike-slip fault, the movement of blocks along a fault is horizontal. The fault motion of a strike-slip fault is caused by shearing forces. Other names: transcurrent fault, lateral fault, tear fault or wrench fault. Examples: San Andreas Fault, California; Anatolian Fault, Turkey.

Animation Novice

An asperity is an area on a fault that is stuck or locked. Scientists study areas along long fault zones that have not had earthquakes in a long time in order to determine where the next earthquake may occur. As long faults move, all areas of it will, at some point, become "unstuck" causing an earthquake relative to the the size of the asperity that finally breaks.

Animation Novice

View looking into a fault zone with a single asperity. Regional right lateral strain puts stress on the fault zone. A single asperity resists movement of the green line which deforms before finally rupturing.

Animation Novice

This left-lateral oblique-slip fault suggests both normal faulting and strike-slip faulting. It is caused by a combination of shearing and tensional forces. Nearly all faults will have some component of both dip-slip (normal or reverse) and strike-slip, so defining a fault as oblique requires both dip and strike components to be measurable and significant.

Animation Novice

A transform fault is a type of strike-slip fault wherein the relative horizontal slip is accommodating the movement between two ocean ridges or other tectonic boundaries. They are connected on both ends to other faults.

Animation Novice

Stratigraphy is the branch of geology that studies rock layers; structure includes the faults and folds that result from regional & local forces acting on the area. A hypothetical cross section is studied by going back to the beginning to study its progressive geologic history.

Animation Novice

[updated 2021] Earth-science educators, do you ever get asked, "What is stress? Why do faults form in Earth’s crust? or How are faults related to plate boundaries?"  This animation describes stress in Earth's outer layer and how it leads to both faults and tectonic plate boundaries.

Animation Novice

Related Lessons

Fault types and rock deformation.  The faults and folds in rocks provide evidence that the rocks are subjected to compressional, tensional, and/or shear stress. Silly Putty™ allows students to discover that the structure we see in rocks provides evidence for they type of stress that formed. Students apply this idea by examining images of faults and folds experimentation with sponge models.

Lesson Novice

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