Teach the Earth > Structural Geology > Structure, Geophysics, and Tectonics 2012 > Teaching Activities > Creating and Analyzing Folds in Visible Geology

Creating and Analyzing Folds in Visible Geology

Rowan Cockett, Visible Geology

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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 utilizes Visible Geology to analyze folds on a stereonet using a pi-girdle technique. The assignment starts with students following a simple example, and then creating their own and sharing it with a partner. Students are introduced to concepts of fold axis, axial plane, interlimb angle in three-visualizations: model view, cross-section view, and stereonet view. By moving between these media students are able to draw deeper connections with respect to folding and to stereonet interpretation.



The activity is for use in an undergraduate structural geology course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should be familiar with basic stereonet interpretation and terminology, students should have been introduced to describing cylindrical folds. Both of these skills will be enhanced during the exercise.

How the activity is situated in the course

This assignment can be used as a stand-alone exercise in a laboratory setting or as a homework exercise.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

This assignment will enhance the understanding of a stereonet, and how it can be used for interpretation of folds. Additionally, goals include strengthening stereonet skills, fold terminology, and visualization. Visualization and creation of block models using Visible Geology.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Comparing three different views on the same data allows students to synthesize links between geologic orientation and the abstraction of the stereonet. Students should have a better understanding of poles, orthogonality, and other geometrical concepts at play. This should be represented in part by their explanation of conical folds.

Other skills goals for this activity

This activity is best completed in groups, with students creating block models, and sharing and testing other students in the group. Allowing students to create the questions (in the framework of this assignment) enhances the learning goals.

Description and Teaching Materials

The assignment can be completed as a lab assignment, or as a homework assignment (requires slightly more coordination). Students need access to a computer with a modern HTML5-Compliant web browser (Chrome or FireFox). The entire assignment is attached and can be modified to suit the particular needs of the class.

Lab Asignment - Creating and Analyzing Folds in Visible Geology (Acrobat (PDF) 95kB Jun27 12)

Teaching Notes and Tips

It is helpful if the instructors are familiar with Visible Geology, and the various functions that are available. Video tutorials are available through YouTube for introduction to the different features in the Stereonet Program.


Each of the questions can be graded as well as the print outs. More weight should be given to the open ended questions.

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