Earthquake Faults
activity exercisesuggested grade levels: K- 4

view Idaho achievement standards for this lesson

The pressures within the Earth cause great forces, which, in turn, break and crack the Earth's crust. These cracks are called faults, and movement along a fault produces earthquakes. How does this happen?

3 similar-size hardcover books

1. With the three books held firmly together, bring them close to your chest, book spines (with titles) upward. Reaching under, push upward on the middle book so that it slides upward between the two outer books. Do this several times to make a smooth, straight lift.
2. Next, firmly hold the books out away from your body, keeping them tightly and evenly together, or aligned. Hold them sideways again, with the titles up and the pages going down. You'll have to apply much force to keep them from slipping. Now, release some of the pressure so that the middle book slips.
3. Finally, hold the books evenly together, spines upward, and rest them on a table. With your hands holding only the two outer books, slide them back and forth. The different movements of the books resemble earthquake faults, with much uplifting and slipping.
In the first two experiments, in which you held the books first close to your chest and then away from your body, you demonstrated dip slip fault movement, a repositioning up and down. The middle book that was forced up (thrust fault) and the one that slipped down (normal fault) are good examples of this type of fault. The books that rested on the table and were moved to slide past one another show the action of a strike slip fault. In this type of fault, movement is sideways (side by side) or parallel.

Related Lesson Topics:
Geology: Geology Topics

Lesson Plan provided by Louis V. Loeschnig with permission from Simple Earth Science Experiments with Everyday Materials, 2000
Idaho Achievement Standards (as of 7/2001) met by completing this activity: