NAGT > Teaching Resources > Teaching in the Field > Field Trip Examples > Walking Field Trip to the San Andreas Fault

Walking Field Trip to the San Andreas Fault:

Fred Winkler, California State University San Bernardino

Intended Audience: This lab is intended for introductory-level college students (Geology 101, Introductory Geology).


San Andreas Fault, San Bernardino, California.

This is intended to take one laboratory period (approximately 3 hours), we make 4 stops (these are elaborated on from pages 21-24 of the Laboratory Manual (Acrobat (PDF) 3.6MB Jul7 08):
  • STOP 1: North side of the biology building - look at the fault from afar.
  • STOP 2: North end of Badger Hill - view Pelona schist, joints, talus piles, and percolation basins.
  • STOP 3: Main fault scarp - view fault scarp, hummocky topography, brecciated rocks.
  • STOP 4: North strand of fault - look at sag ponds and shutter ridges and springs.

Pages 21-24 of the Laboratory Manual (Acrobat (PDF) 3.6MB Jul7 08) contain thought questions that include reading topographic maps - you may wish to provide students with topo maps so they can answer these questions.


Due to our University's unique location approximately one mile from the nearest trace of the San Andreas Fault, we are able to take students on a walking field trip to the San Andreas. On the trip we set the stage for many topics discussed later in the quarter in lecture by showing students many fault-related features, percolation and debris basins, metamorphic and igneous rocks, and springs to name a few.


In preparation for this walking field trip to the San Andreas Fault, students ideally have attended two lecture sessions where plate boundary processes and features have been discussed formally. The expected outcomes include students that are capable of calculating rupture length based on elastic rebound theory, recurrence interval, and relative plate motion and rates. The field trip procedure and details for each stop are included in the lab manual below.


Goals for this field trip include:

  • Understanding of plate boundary processes, visualization of what a transform fault looks like along with some of the classic structures that can be observed and used to identify an active fault.
  • Formulation of hypotheses regarding features formed in the vicinity of a transform boundary.
  • Performing simple algebraic calculations involving rate of plate movement, elastic rebound, fault rupture length, and recurrence interval calculation.

Assessment and Evaluation:

Students turn in a lab worksheet that is graded by their instructor.

Materials and Handouts: