Teach the Earth > Structural Geology > Structure, Geophysics, and Tectonics 2012 > Teaching Activities > Developing an eye for folds

Developing an eye for folds

Martha Growdon, SUNY Oneonta

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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

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Apr 29, 2013


This activity is a multi-part lab designed to allow students to develop their ability to visualize folds in 3-dimensions using Visible Geology and stereonets.



This exercise is part of a Jr/Sr-level Structural Geology course required of geology majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should be able to reliably plot lines and planes on stereonets and have just begun the discussion of analysis of folded rocks.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a lead-in to a portion of a term project but could equally as well be used as a stand-alone lab. This activity is the first of several using Visible Geology.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Students will learn to use Visible Geology to visualize folded layers;
Students will learn to use Visible Geology to reconstruct simple geologic histories of folded rocks.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Students will develop Visible Geology models;
Students will critically evaluate map patterns of folded rocks.

Other skills goals for this activity

Students will practice making beta- and pi-diagrams.

Description and Teaching Materials

Magic Eye for Folds (Acrobat (PDF) 2MB Jul16 12)
Google Earth .kmz file (KMZ File 677bytes Jul16 12)

Teaching Notes and Tips

I use this exercise as an introduction to Visible Geology as a learning tool for the students (hence the rather pedantic instructions). The biggest goal here is to get the students to use Visible Geology as a go-to workspace for visualizing map-view geology.


I collect the students' work and check that they have sketched each block diagram and come close to reproducing the tricky structures in part 3. I give a rubric-based score of 0-5 on each portion of the assignment where 0 = not turned in, and 5 = superb.

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