Weathering defines the breaking down or dissolving of rocks and minerals on the surface ar of the Earth. Water, ice, acids, salts, plants, animals, and also changes in temperature space all agents that weathering.
You are watching: The physical breakdown of a rock into smaller pieces is called
Weathering describes the breaking down or dissolving of rocks and also minerals on the surface ar of the Earth. Water, ice, acids, salts, plants, animals, and also changes in temperature room all agents of weathering.
Once a rock has actually been damaged down, a process called erosion transports the bits the rock and also mineral away. No rock on planet is hard sufficient to withstand the forces of weathering and erosion. Together, these processes sculpted landmarks such together the cool Canyon, in the U.S. State the Arizona. This substantial canyon is 446 kilometers (277 miles) long, as much as 29 kilometers (18 miles) wide, and 1,600 meters (1 mile) deep.
Weathering and also erosion constantly change the rocky landscape of Earth. Weathering wears away exposed surfaces over time. The size of exposure frequently contributes come how fragile a absent is come weathering. Rocks, such together lavas, that space quickly buried beneath various other rocks room less delicate to weathering and erosion 보다 rocks that room exposed to agents such together wind and also water.
As that smoothes rough, sharp rock surfaces, weathering is often the first step in the manufacturing of soils. Tiny bits of weathering minerals mix v plants, animal remains, fungi, bacteria, and also other organisms. A single form of weathering rock often produces infertile soil, if weathered products from a repertoire of rocks is richer in mineral diversity and contributes to more fertile soil. Soils types associated through a mixture of weathering rock encompass glacial till, loess, and alluvial sediments.
Weathering is often divided into the procedures of mechanical weathering and also chemical weathering. Biological weathering, in which living or once-living organisms contribute to weathering, have the right to be a part of both processes.
Water, in either fluid or solid form, is frequently a key agent of mechanical weathering. Because that instance, fluid water deserve to seep into cracks and also crevices in rock. If temperatures drop short enough, the water will certainly freeze. When water freezes, it expands. The ice cream then functions as a wedge. It progressively widens the cracks and splits the rock. Once ice melts, liquid water performs the action of erosion by delivering away the small rock fragments lost in the split. This specific process (the freeze-thaw cycle) is dubbed frost weathering or cryofracturing.
Temperature transforms can also contribute to mechanically weathering in a procedure called thermal stress. Alters in temperature cause rock to expand (with heat) and contract (with cold). As this wake up over and over again, the structure of the rock weakens. Over time, it crumbles. Rocky desert landscapes are specifically vulnerable to heat stress. The outer layer that desert rocks undergo recurring stress together the temperature transforms from day to night. Eventually, external layers flake turn off in slim sheets, a process called exfoliation.
Exfoliation contributes to the development ofbornhardts, one of the most dramatic functions in landscapes created by weathering and also erosion. Bornhardts room tall, domed, secluded rocks often uncovered in dry areas. Sugarloaf Mountain, an above landmark in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is a bornhardt.
Changes in press can also contribute come exfoliation due to weathering. In a process called unloading, overlying materials are removed. The underlying rocks, released from overlying pressure, have the right to then expand. Together the rock surface ar expands, it becomes delicate to fracturing in a procedure called sheeting.
Another kind of mechanically weathering occurs as soon as clay or other products near rock absorb water. Clay, more porous 보다 rock, have the right to swell v water, weathering the surrounding, more tough rock.
Salt additionally works come weather absent in a process called haloclasty. Saltwater periodically gets into the cracks and also pores the rock. If the saltwater evaporates, salt crystals are left behind. As the crystals grow, castle put pressure on the rock, slowly breaking that apart.
Honeycomb weathering is connected with haloclasty. Together its surname implies, honeycomb weathering defines rock formations v hundreds or also thousands that pits developed by the growth of salt crystals. Honeycomb weathering is common in coastal areas, wherein sea sprays constantly pressure rocks to communicate with salts.
Haloclasty is not limited to seaside landscapes. Salt upwelling, the geologic process in which underground salt domes expand, can add to weathering the the overlying rock. Frameworks in the old city that Petra, Jordan, were made unstable and also often broke down due to salt upwelling from the floor below.
Plants and animals have the right to be agents of mechanically weathering. The particle of a tree may sprout in soil the has accumulated in a cracked rock. As the root grow, castle widen the cracks, at some point breaking the rock into pieces. End time, trees deserve to break personally even huge rocks. Even small plants, such as mosses, have the right to enlarge tiny cracks as they grow.
Animals that tunnel underground, such as moles and also prairie dogs, likewise work to rest apart rock and soil. Other animals dig and also trample rock aboveground, causing rock to slowly crumble.
For instance, carbon dioxide indigenous the wait or soil periodically combines with water in a process called carbonation. This produce a weak acid, dubbed carbonic acid, that have the right to dissolve rock. Carbonic acid is especially effective at dissolve limestone. As soon as carbonic acid seeps with limestone underground, it can open up huge cracks or hole out vast networks the caves.
Carlsbad Caverns national Park, in the U.S. State of brand-new Mexico, includes an ext than 119 limestone caves created by weathering and erosion. The biggest is called the large Room. Through an area of about 33,210 square meters (357,469 square feet), the big Room is the size of six football fields.
Sometimes, chemistry weathering dissolves big portions that limestone or other rock ~ above the surface of the earth to type a landscape referred to as karst. In these areas, the surface ar rock is pockmarked v holes, sinkholes, and caves. Among the world’s many spectacular instances of karst is Shilin, or the rock Forest, close to Kunming, China. Hundreds of slender, sharp towers of weathering limestone increase from the landscape.
Another type of chemical weathering functions on rocks that contain iron. These rocks revolve to rust in a process called oxidation. Rust is a compound developed by the communication of oxygen and iron in the visibility of water. As rust expands, that weakens rock and also helps break it apart.
Hydration is a form of chemistry weathering in i beg your pardon the chemical bonds that the mineral are adjusted as that interacts v water. One instance of hydration occurs together the mineral anhydrite reacts v groundwater. The water transforms anhydrite right into gypsum, one of the most common minerals on Earth.
Another familiar type of chemical weathering is hydrolysis. In the process of hydrolysis, a new solution (a mixture of 2 or much more substances) is developed as chemicals in rock interact with water. In many rocks, for example, sodium minerals connect with water to type a saltwater solution.
Hydration and hydrolysis contribute to flared slopes, another dramatic instance of a landscape formed by weathering and also erosion. Flared slopes room concave absent formations periodically nicknamed “wave rocks.” their c-shape is greatly a result of subsurface weathering, in which hydration and hydrolysis wear far rocks beneath the landscape’s surface.
Living or once-living organisms can additionally be agents of chemistry weathering. The decaying continues to be of plants and also some fungi kind carbonic acid, which deserve to weaken and also dissolve rock. Part bacteria can weather rock in order to access nutrients such as magnesium or potassium.
Clay minerals, consisting of quartz, are among the most usual byproducts of chemical weathering. Clays do up around 40% of the chemicals in all sedimentary rocks on Earth.
For example, particular kinds of waiting pollution increase the price of weathering. Burn coal, natural gas, and also petroleum releases chemicals such together nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. As soon as these chemicals combine with sunlight and also moisture, they readjust into acids. They climate fall back to earth as acid rain.
Acid rain promptly weathers limestone, marble, and other type of stone. The results of acid rain can often be watched on gravestones, do names and other inscriptions difficult to read.
Acid rain has likewise damaged countless historic buildings and also monuments. Because that example, at 71 meters (233 feet) tall, the Leshan gigantic Buddha at mountain Emei, China is the world’s largest statue of the Buddha. It was carved 1,300 years ago and satellite unharmed for centuries. An innovative drainage system mitigates the natural procedure of erosion. Yet in current years, mountain rain has actually turned the statue’s sleep black and made few of its hair crumble and also fall.
Weathering by water\"s freeze-thaw bike has break-up this rock in two.
Photograph by George F. Mobley, nationwide Geographic
Spheroidal weathering is a form of chemical weathering that occurs once a rectangular block is weathered from three sides at the corners and also from two sides follow me its edges. It is also called “onion skin” weathering.
Weathered MountainsThe Appalachian mountains in eastern North America as soon as towered much more than 9,000 meter (30,000 feet) high—taller than Mount Everest! Over millions of years, weathering and also erosion have actually worn lock down. Today, the highest possible Appalachian top reaches simply 2,037 meter (6,684 feet) high.
chemical compound the reacts v a basic to kind a salt. Acids have the right to corrode some organic materials. Acids have actually pH levels reduced than 7.
precipitation v high levels of nitric and sulfuric acids. Acid rain have the right to be manmade or happen naturally.
process in which life or once-living organisms contribute to the disintegration of rocks and minerals (weathering).
(c. 563-483 BCE) Indian prince, spiritual leader, and founder that the buddhism religion. Also called Prince Siddhartha and Gautama Buddha.
process transforms the ingredient of rocks, frequently transforming them when water interacts v minerals to produce various chemistry reactions.
chemical weathering process in i m sorry the freeze-thaw bike of ice cream cracks and disintegrates rock. Additionally called frost weathering.
type the mineral the is clear and, once viewed under a microscope, has actually a repeating sample of atoms and molecules.
process of rocks crumbling due to rain, wind, or various other atmospheric conditions. Also called mechanical weathering and physical weathering.
C-shaped landform consists of a concave rock wall surface formed by weathering and also erosion of subsurface rocks. Additionally called a “wave rock.”
chemical weathering process in i m sorry the freeze-thaw bicycle of ice cracks and also disintegrates rock. Also called cryofracturing.
stone marking a person\"s funeral place, regularly engraved v the person\"s name and also dates the birth and death.
type the sedimentary rock mainly made that calcium carbonate from shells and skeletons of maritime organisms.
process of rocks crumbling because of rain, wind, or various other atmospheric conditions. Likewise called physics weathering.
chemical procedure of a problem combining through oxygen to readjust the substance\"s physical and molecular structure.
process the rocks crumbling because of rain, wind, or other atmospheric conditions. Likewise called mechanically weathering.
part the a plant the secures the in the soil, obtains water and nutrients, and also often shop food do by leaves.
structure created as water evaporates indigenous a salty lake or sea. The staying salt is hidden by sediments, but eventually pierces with the rock, forming a hill.
type of physics weathering in i m sorry a single layer of absent is damaged off. Also called contour weathering.
See more: Turn The Radio Up For That Sweet Sound, Turn The Radio Up
existing in the tropics, the latitudes in between the Tropic that Cancer in the north and the Tropic the Capricorn in the south.
join our community of educators and also receive the latest information on nationwide Geographic\"s resources for you and also your students.