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Janice VanCleave's Science for Fun
In the Lab
Earth Science for Ages 13+
Crustal Bending: Deformation of the Earth's Crust
Don't miss A+ Projects in Earth Science for this experiment and others.

To model the formation of an anticline.

  • permanent marker
  • sponge
  • tap water
1. Use the marker to make a line around the perimeter of the sponge through the center of its outside edge as shown in Figure 16.1.
2. Moisten the sponge with water to make it pliable, then lay it on a table.
3. Without lifting the sponge, place your hands on its short ends and push the ends toward the center of the sponge. Observe the movement and shape of the sponge.

Sum It Up!
The center of the sponge bends upward in an arch shape.

The line drawn on the sponge divides the sponge into layers representing strata (layers of rock material) in the Earth's crust. The force applied to the sponge represents a form of stress, which is a force that acts on rocks in the Earth's crust, causing movement of a change in shape or volume. The type of stress represented in this experiment is compression (squeezing together) of rock. Compression can cause rock to break or bend. The movement of the sponge demonstrated a folding, or bending of rock layers. A fold producing an upward arch shape is called an anticline.


For information about developing this experiment into a science fair project, see "Janice VanCleave's A+ Projects in Earth Science." (Wiley, 1999.)


Click here to visit Showboard for science fair materials.

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