Teach the Earth > Structural Geology > Structure, Geophysics, and Tectonics 2012 > Teaching Activities > Fold mapping lab

Fold mapping lab

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: Jun 1, 2012


Students will map an overturned fold with axial planar cleavage and parasitic folds using hand samples set up around a classroom/outdoors.



Undergraduate, senior-level structural geology course, required for majors.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should have been introduced to the concepts of axial planar cleavage development, fold geometry, bedding-cleavage relationships, and parasitic folds. This activity gives the students practice in applying these concepts to map a regional fold structure.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is part of a segment about 3/4 of the way through the semester in which we discuss cleavage development, fold geometries, and applications of outcrop- to regional-scale mapping.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Measuring attitudes of lines and planes with a Brunton compass

Taking detailed field notes of lithologies and structures

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Integrating field data to inform an interpretation of regional structures

Drawing an interpretive cross section based on field data

Other skills goals for this activity

Working in groups
using a Brunton compass

Description and Teaching Materials

For this activity, you will need to have several (5 is a good number) samples showing bedding-cleavage relationships where the angle between bedding and cleavage is different in each sample (higher S0-S1 angles in the hinge zone, lower on the limbs). You will also need samples of parasitic folds (I don't worry about matching the lithologies because I'm not lucky enough to have samples that match and ask the students to only write notes on the lithologies of the S0-S1 samples). You will need to arrange the samples around the room such that the student can make a strip map of bedding and cleavage, and note the vergence of parasitic folds. I affix the samples to the tables using modeling clay, but I still have the tell the students to gingerly measure attitudes because the samples can move. Attached are the activity instructions and a sample strip map and cross section.

Fold Mapping Activity (Acrobat (PDF) 623kB Apr30 12)
Strip map and X-section sample (Acrobat (PDF) 104kB Apr30 12)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Excellent teaching samples can be collected in the PA, VT, or other slate belts where cleavage and bedding are still distinguishable.


I grade students' maps, x-sections, "field" notes, and setreographic analyses using a 0-5 rubric for each component.

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