Physical weathering is a physical action which breaks up rocks : An example of this is called freeze-thaw weathering when water gets into tiny cracks in rocks. When the water freezes it expands, if this is repeated the crack grows and bits eventually break off.
There is an important point to remember. ROCKS ARE WEATHERED AT DIFFERENT
RATES. Dartmoor is an upland area of 241 square miles reaching up to 2,000 feet in
height making it the largest and highest area of moorland in the South of England. It
is also the largest granite surface in England. (see picture). Granite is made up of
large interlocking crystals (igneous rock) that give it a granular texture and make it
one of the toughest rocks on Earth. Sedimentary rocks such as sandstone tend to be
The rock cycle goes round and round, taking hundreds of millions of years. Once the rock has been
broken down into smaller bits it's got to somehow move. Streams and rivers carry the small bits towards
the sea (continually wearing down as the they progress). Big rivers such as the Humber and the Severn
carry millions of tonnes of sediments out to sea each year.
Sandstone is one of the most common
sedimentary rocks. It is made from sand grains
eroded from older rocks, cemented together
and then hardened into new rock. Here we see
a picture of a Jurassic sandstone from the USA,
notice the layers. Each layer is a record of an
event in the past.
Limestones are made from fragments of sea
creatures that sank to the bottom of ancient
tropical seas. Many limestones from Southern
England are made from dissolved lime which
builds up around sand grains to form tiny
spheres called oolites. Limestones frequently
contain fossils. Here we see a stalactite from the
limestone cave system a few miles away in
This is formed from mudstone or clay and is the most common kind of metamorphic rock in Britain.
Pressure causes new minerals to grow in parallel sheets - which makes slate split easily to make roofing
Marble is limestone that has been squashed and heated .The shells of the limestone breakdown and
recrystallise into tiny crystals. Marble is chemically the same as limestone but it is much harder and far
more expensive. Some of the finest marble comes from Italy and it is used for sculptures and as a fine
If the rock has small crystals this means that it had rapidly cooled, possibly because it was
erupted into the ocean. We call it an EXTRUSIVE IGNEOUS rock. If the rock has large crystals it
means that it slowly cooled, the molten rock solidifies deep down within the crust without ever
reaching the surface via an eruption. We call it an INTRUSIVE IGNEOUS rock.
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