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Weathering and Erosion

Definition
• Weathering and
Erosion are the
processes that sculpt
and mold the surface
features of the earth
• There is a constant
conflict between
forces that cut down
the surface and
forces that raise the
surface
Weathering
• The breakdown of material
– By air, water, plants, and animals
Erosion
• Movement or transport of that weathered
material
2 Types of Weathering
• Physical Weathering
– Mechanical breakdown without chemical
change
• Abrasions
• Ice Wedging
• Exfoliation
Abrasions
• Wearing down or
smoothing of a
material due to
constant collisions
– Beach glass, sand
blasting
PHYSICAL WEATHERING -
ABRASION
ROCK PARTICLES GRIND AGAINST ONE
ANOTHER

WATER WIND
Ice Wedging (Frost Action)
• Break up due to repeated freezing and thawing
– Pot holes
• The Bigger the crack gets, the more water it lets
in……causing a snowball effect
Exfoliation
• Peeling away of surface layers, caused by
changes in Temperature and pressure or
vegetation (trees, grass, vegetation growing on
rocks.)
• Roots wedge into pores and cracks, splitting the
rock
PHYSICAL WEATHERING –
ROOT ACTION
PLANT ROOTS UPLIFT AND FRACTURE
ROCK
PHYSICAL WEATHERING -
EXFOLIATION
Sand is the remains of weathered and eroded
rock!
Chemical Weathering
• Rock broken down by chemical action,
changes the compostion of rock (O2, H2O,
CO2)
Oxidation
• When O2 chemically unites with minerals
– O2 and Fe (iron) form FeO2 (iron oxide or rust)
Hydration
• H2O chemically unites with minerals
– Feldspar and Hornblade plus H2O makes clay.
Carbonation
• CO2 chemically unites
with minerals
– CO2 + H2O = weak
carbonic acid (acid
rain)
– Carbonic acid
dissolves limestone
creating caves
CARBONATION
Stalagmites and stalactites
WHAT KIND OF CLIMATE
SUPPORTS WEATHERING?
HIGH
PPT







LOW
PPT

COLD →→→→→→→→→→ HOT


How does climate affect
weathering?
• Physical Weathering • Chemical Weathering
– Works better in a cool – Works better in a hot
and dry climate and moist environment
– More water = more
weathering
WHICH DIAGRAM IS AN ARID
CLIMATE? HUMID CLIMATE?
A B

Humid – Arid –
more more
rounded angular
Weathering Rates
• Note to everyone!
– Time is a relative thing, when we talk about
time in geology, we must remember that the
earth has been around four billions of years!
– 100 years compared to 1,000,000,000 is very
small!
Weathering Rates
• Climate
– Dictates temperature and amount of moisture
– #1 factor in weathering process
Weathering Rates
• Surface area exposure
– More surface area = greater weathering

– Which will weather


The fastest?
PHYSICAL WEATHERING
INCREASES SURFACE AREA
MORE CHEMICAL WEATHERING CAN OCCUR
Surface Area
• Which will weather faster, solid rock or
crushed rock
• The crushed rock of course!
– The large rock is tightly packed and has less
surface area exposed
– The crushed rock is loosely packed and has
more exposed.
Mineral Composition
• The harder the rock, the slower the rate of
weathering is
• Composition dictates hardness which
determines resistance to weathering.
WHICH LAYER IS MORE
RESISTANT TO WEATHERING?
LEAST RESISTANT?

A D
C
B
Soil
• One of the major
products of
weathering is soil
Residual Soil
• Forms from the weathering of the
underlying bedrock
Transported Soil
• Different in composition from underlying
bedrock.
– Ex. Long Island soil
• It takes hundreds of years for soil to form
– Average is 2.5cm3 per year
• What type of soil do we walk around on?
– Most soils are transported
TRANSPORTED SOILS DUE TO …
Welcome to
Huntington
Cemetery! Step
inside to another
real-life
weathering
laboratory!
Wow! We haven’t even
stepped inside and we
have evidence of
weathering in the gate!

What process is this


and is it physical or
chemical?
We are going to
look at cemetery
rocks…
(tombstones!) and
observe the
weathering that
has occurred in
them.
Since tombstones are dated we can even
determine how long the weathering has
occurred!
Here is a typical
marble tombstone
which used to be a
very popular rock
for cemeteries.
What mineral
largely composes
the rock marble?

What is the
hardness of this
mineral? Why was
it a good rock for
tombstones?
Here is another
type of
tombstone. It is
made up of slate.
Compare the two tombstones
in the next picture. How do
they differ in terms of the
types of weathering that has
occurred to each?
How do they compare in
appearance? Which appears
more weathered?
Marble Slate
Which tombstone is older?

Marble Slate
This means that rocks can weather at different rates!

Marble Slate
This is called “Differential
Weathering”

Rocks weather at different rates


due to differences in mineral
composition.
Some minerals are more stable at
the earth’s surface than others!
These take longer to weather.
Calcite is very unstable at the earth’s
surface in certain climate types. Which
CO2 CO
2

What weathering process causes the tombstones to


“dissolve”? Is this chemical or physical?