Introductory Courses > Activities > Walking Field Trip to the San Andreas Fault

Walking Field Trip to the San Andreas Fault

Fred Winkler
California State University San Bernardino
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

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  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
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This page first made public: Jul 7, 2008


Due to our University's unique location approximately one mile from the nearest trace of the San Andreas Fault, we are able to take students on a walking field trip to the San Andreas. On the trip we set the stage for many topics discussed later in the quarter in lecture by showing students many fault-related features, percolation and debris basins, metamorphic and igneous rocks, and springs to name a few.

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This lab is intended for introductory-level college students (Geology 101, Introductory Geology).

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Simple algebraic calculations, ability to read a topographic map (covered in the prior lab period), basic knowledge of three types of plate boundaries and processes that occur at these boundaries.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is the second of ten labs that accompany the Geology 101 lecture. Many of the features observed during the field trip are referenced later in the quarter during lecture so students will have a visual of the topic in advance of formal lecture discussion.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Understanding of plate boundary processes, visualization of what a transform fault looks like along with some of the classic structures that can be observed and used to identify an active fault.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Formulation of hypotheses regarding features formed in the vicinity of a transform boundary.

Other skills goals for this activity

Simple algebraic calculations involving rate of plate movement, elastic rebound, fault rupture length, and recurrence interval calculation.

Description of the activity/assignment

In preparation for this walking field trip to the San Andreas Fault, students ideally have attended two lecture sessions where plate boundary processes and features have been discussed formally. The expected outcomes include students that are capable of calculating rupture length based on elastic rebound theory, recurrence interval, and relative plate motion and rates. The field trip procedure and details for each stop are included in the lab manual below.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students turn in a lab worksheet that is graded by their instructor.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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