flaw vs fault/gap/cleft/fissure

AVim

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi, guys
I'm learning English by myself and I come across a question from my study book, it's a vocabulary question:
This immense chasm has been formed by an underground stream which has tunnelled a course through a flaw in the rocks.
a) fault
b) gap
c) cleft
d) fissure
The answer is A.
All these words for selection have a similar meaning to 'flaw'. I feel that 'gap' and 'cleft' should be somehow larger than 'flaw', right? But I cannot tell the difference between 'fault' and 'fissure'. Could you give me some explanation?

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Bigote Blanco

    Senior Member
    This is a difficult question for a native english speaker as I believe that all of the answers may be considered correct.
    A flaw is a defect or adnormality in something. Althought there may be a flaw in my answer, I believe that Answers B, C, and D may all be "flaws" in a rock, through with water may pass.
     

    Imber Ranae

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    "Fault" is the correct word here because it has a very specific technical meaning:

    Geology, Mining. a break in the continuity of a body of rock or of a vein, with dislocation along the plane of the fracture.

    "Cleft" or "fissure" might sound okay in this sentence, too, but they would be less correct. "Flaw" does not work. I'm not sure about "gap"
     

    AVim

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    What is the question? Are you looking for a synonym for "flaw?"
    Yes, you are right. It should be a choice question for the synonym of 'flaw'.
    The original sentence in the text book using the word 'flaw', and the following question replaces the 'flaw' with a blank, like this:
    This immense chasm has been formed by an underground stream which has tunnelled a course through a ____in the rocks.
    a) fault
    b) gap
    c) cleft
    d) fissure
    Sorry for the vagueness.
    Are there much difference among them? If not, I'll choose all of them and discard the suggested answer.

    Thanks again. :)
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    This is another of the many poorly constructed sentences inflicted upon English learners by people who should be neutralized.

    If you were to get rid of the surrounding words in the sentence, and only consider the words, "fault" and "flaw" are more or less synonymous.

    The problem comes, however, when the writer gets involved with geology where fault, such as California's San Andreas Fault, has a very precise geological meaning.

    Whereas we talk of flaws in gemstones, I have doubts as to whether it's an appropriate term for huge masses of bedrock.

    Also, I don't see the connection with "chasm," which is open at the top and an "underground river."

    Good luck!
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The river has tunnelled its way through whatever this is, suggesting the creation of the chasm by a long process of erosion.

    Gap, cleft and fissure are spaces through which the water might flow.
    Flaw and fault are weaknesses in the rock that might be eroded to create the chasm.

    It's probably possible to create a reasonably logical basis for choosing the others :)
     
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