Spatial Thinking Workbook > Teaching Activities > Fault Separation

Fault Separation

Laurel Goodwin, UW-Madison, and Carol Ormand, SERC at Carleton College
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Summary

Students use gestures to explore the relationship between fault slip direction and fault separation by varying the geometry of faulted layers and the slip direction.

Learning Goals

At the end of this exercise, students will:

  • Understand how fault separation differs from fault displacement.
  • Be able to explain how
    • fault slip will produce no separation if the slip vector is parallel to the faulted surface;
    • pure strike-slip fault motion can produce normal or reverse dip separation in addition to dextral or sinistral strike separation, depending on the orientation of faulted layers and the slip vector;
    • pure dip-slip motion can produce both dip-slip and strike-slip separation, depending on the orientation of faulted layers and the slip vector.
  • Be able to represent complex fault separation relationships via gestures.

Context for Use

This exercise accompanies a lecture on fault separation in an undergraduate structural geology course. Students need to know the difference between strike-slip and dip-slip faults prior to beginning the activity. This is one of several gesture exercises incorporated in the course, so students are accustomed to using gesture to describe and illustrate structural concepts.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students explore the relationship between fault slip direction and fault separation by varying the geometry of faulted layers, slip direction, and the perspective from which these are viewed. They work in teams to explore these complex geometric relationships via gestures.

Fault separation exercise (Acrobat (PDF) 732kB Aug29 16)

Assessment

We walk around the room, watching and talking with the students as they work through the exercise. It's a quick and easy way to see whether students understand fault separation, and where they are struggling with this concept.

References and Resources

Goldin-Meadow, Susan (2011). Learning Through Gesture. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, v. 2, n. 6, pp. 595–607.

Using Gesture to Support Spatial Thinking highlights the value of gesture in communicating spatial information. It consists of two short exercises, and can be used in preparation for any other exercise in which students will be asked to use gesture to communicate spatial information.