Initial Publication Date: June 26, 2012

Visualizing folds using Google Earth

Barbara Tewksbury (Hamilton College)

Students map folded rocks and creating cross sections even before we get to folds and fold terminology. I introduce terminology as they need it and use fold terrains to help them develop a picture of real-world fold structures.

Students begin by mapping strikes and dips on a simple fold structure in eastern Iran (right), add fold symbols to their maps (example at left), and sketch cross sections. They use what they have learned about outcrop patterns of contacts plus the Google Earth 3D view to help them visualize the structure.

The tilt, pan, and rotate features in Google Earth are instrumental in helping students make sense of more complex fold terrains, and students have little difficulty mapping folds and creating schematic cross sections of areas such as the one in the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Algeria shown at left. Simple exercises such as these are important in helping students develop a picture of real-world fold structures.

Go to the next step: Other mapping projects

Go to Visualizing inclined contacts - Visualizing strike & dip - Visualizing vertical contacts - Visualizing horizontal contacts - Visualizing folds - Other mapping projects