Study of Faults and Earthquakes with Foldable Fault Blocks
: Lesson Plan

Targeted Age: Elementary to High School
Activity Structure: Individual Assignment
Indiana Standards and Objectives: 6.3.22, 7.3.4, ES 6.3
Material Requirements:

  • Colored pencils or crayons
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Printed copies of fault block activity


In this lesson, students will create three-dimensional (3-D) blocks out of paper to learn about the types of faulting that occur at the Earth's surface and its interior, and explain how earthquakes are generated by fault movement. Step-by-step directions will provide students with the necessary resources to create the final product.

Background Information

It is expected that students have studied the basics of plate tectonics before attempting this lesson.

What products does the instructor want students to create and in what format?

The foldable fault block activity provides students the ability to create 3-D fault blocks and to demonstrate strata displacement with the fault blocks that they have created. As the instructor, you will need to determine the connections you would like students to focus on during the lesson, based on the curriculum context in your classroom and the outcomes you desire.

Essential Questions to be Addressed

  1. Identify the three types of faults generated in the Earth's crust. Use vocabulary terms, such as "hanging wall" and "foot wall," to describe each fault.
  2. Explain the relationship between faults and earthquakes.


Students should have created three fault blocks and actively demonstrated a normal fault, reverse fault, and strike-slip fault. Students should also explain how movement along a fault generates earthquakes because of the sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust.

Extension or Enrichment Ideas

  • Ask students to investigate fault geometry and the factors that create earthquakes in more detail.
  • Discuss the effects of erosion on fault scarp surfaces. Ask students how they would identify a fault if the hanging wall and foot wall had been eroded to the same level.
  • Ask students to identify the relative ages of faulted rocks.
  • Discuss the compressional forces that infl uence the interplate earthquakes that occur in Indiana.

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