Exploring fold and thrust belts in Google Earth
Keywords: Google Earth, fold-and-thrust belt, visualization
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
How the activity is situated in the course
Content/concepts goals for this activity
Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity
Other skills goals for this activity
Description and Teaching Materials
This activity permits students to examine three-dimensional map patterns in a fold-and-thrust belt, comparing geologic map patterns to topography. The perspective view capabilities of Google Earth provide insight into the third dimension, which is possible only along already drawn cross-section lines in a traditional examination of geologic maps.
This activity could be used to complement lectures about fold-and-thrust belt geometries. I used the activity as a lab exercise, having covered in a previous lecture some more mechanical concepts of fold-and-thrust belts that I felt could be better illustrated with stand-alone cross-section drawings and animations. This activity encouraged students to take their time in exploring the area using Google Earth. I introduced the activity by showing a different fold-and-thrust belt and highlighting some of its key features, then let the students work on their own with the maps distributed here.
To prepare the USGS quadrangles for overlaying in Google Earth, I simply cropped the images to the map area only, then exported the files as JPEGs. The placemarks are created as Image Overlays, with the corner coordinates given by the quadrangle extents.
Google Earth Placemarks and Geologic Map Overlays (Zip Archive 88.5MB May9 12)