i) llinerol Composition

;l +

Comprises quqrtz, feldspor, rnico, hornblende ond other minerols

the presence of orthoclose feldspor, which is less resistoni, enobles weatheted eosily


1o be

Fi}r/"e 22. /v\inerol composition of gronite

ii) Physicol Properties


Rock type: fntrusive igneous rock (plutonic rock)

i ,{

Texture: cocrse groined
colouri consist of grey, white, block ond pink minerql grqins Crystqlline rock



6reot physicol strength (Hqrd) crystqls

: due

lo the compoct nature of interlocking


Pock Structure

. . . . . .

Fresh grdnite (neuly forned). non-porous ond highly imPermeoble

Frdclured granife.' hon-porous but permeoble due to joints
Extensive poiiern of joints, formed both on cooling ond due to Pressute teleose

Verlicoljoints intersecting ot right ongles with horizontol joints fo form
pseudo - bedding


This results in on overoll 'orlhogonol' joint sirucfure.
Sometimes, sheet joints / rodiqljoinls. often curvilineor in form; develop pqrollel to the morgins of lorge gronitic mqsses. Grqnite formed under very gteot pressure in the eorth's crust undergoes exponsion os the overlying strotq ore groduolly striPped off by denudotionol processes. Such pressure release iends to produce cuNe sheets of rock running porollel to the surfqce of the gronilic mqsses.



6ronite is susceptible to

. . .

Chenicdl sealhering - hydrolysis, oxidotion ond hydroiion
Physicdl wedtheing - freeze thaw weathering, insolqtion weothering, solt cryslol growth ond ptessure release Refer to weolhering notes

i)Deep Weothering in the TroPics


Ropid chemicol weothering (moinly hydrolysis) to o depth of up to 60m.

+ +

Result: deep layers of weothered moteriol (or sqp\olite).



the weolhered mqntle: 30


6Om (Refer




Fdctorc Promolirg Deep Weatheing in the tropics: Clinate


High prevoiling lemperotures fovouring ropid rotes of chenicol reoction, for e.9. hydrolysis is speeded up 2 + times for every looC
rise in lemperoture; High precipifdtion - ovoilobility of woter for chemicol processes.

> > ! )


Protects soil from roinwcsh erosion but releoses lorge mosses of vegetql motter - production of orgonic ocids - focilitote rockdecoy. E.g. the qnnuol releose of orgonic mciter from tropicql roanforests is 10 - 20 times thot from coniferous forests.

Long periods

of fectohic stabilifv For e.g.lqrge ports of lhe oncient Africon londlnoss hos experienced little uplift over long periods of geologic time.
Qnt How for deep con deep weofhering occur?


Basal Surfdce



. Oflen lhe .

wedtl\eted loyer (weolhering montle) hcs o very cleorly defined bose wiih o shorp chonge from highly weathered io complefely
unweothered rock.

This boundory or sutface thot sePqrotes oltered (decomposed or disintegroted) rock fron fresh, unweolhered rock is referred to os the basal surface of weothering (BSt1/) or wea,fhering front.Il morks lhe downword litnit to deep weothering.
The depth of fhe BSW below ground level depends on o number of fqctors, nomely, the climote ol the oreo,, the tYpe of porent rock (its minerol composifion ond the presence of joints/bedding plones qnd ofher Iines of weokness), ond time.
Where the rock hos o complex ond deep system of joints, weothering will proceed ropidly and the BSW will be highly irregulor ond found ot greoter depth below ground level.



FiE)re 23- Bosol surfoce of weothering

Ruxton qnd Berry (1957): l,lodel Tropicol Areos



DeeP Weothering

of Grqnite



Bosed on observqtions of octuol weqthering horizons in Hong Kong.

The groduol decomposilion of gronite from the surfoce downwords will produce 4 zones, eoch 'older" or "nore odvonced" thon the o^e 5eneoth it.


Model implies thot over tine, the uppermost zones will grow ot the exPense of lhe lowermost zones ond ihqi the whole weqthering loyer will evenluqlly become highly rotted residual debris


olso ossurnes thot there is o downword limit to deeP weothering (bos?rl surfoce of weothering) coused eiiher by permonent solurotion of the rock or the disqppeoronce of joinls

+ 'l

Actuol weothering profiles in the tropics hove been shown to resemble, ot limes, the Ruxton ond Berry model.

For e.9. J W Bornes described rotted gneiss in Ugondq: q progressive tronsition from surfoce soil, through highly weothered rock ond moderotely weqthered rock, to porliolly weatheted rock ond fresh rock qt o depth of


Zone 1

. . . .

Uppermost zone of "residuol debris" Structureless moss of cloy minerols such qs kqolinite ond quortz Sqnd Vory ih ihickness fron l to 25m Results from protrocted (prolonged) ond complete decoy of the gronite over o long period of time.



. . . . . . * . . .

Less decornposed comprises some residuol debris. some'gruss" (q tnoss of ploty frogmenls produced by breqkdown of feldspor crystols) dnd q number of'flooting" ond rounded core-stones. Peferred to os zone of residuol debris ond gruss togelher with rounded

Occupy up to 50"L

of the zone: Moy be up to 60

rn in thickness

,1" Zone 3
Dominoted by lorge numbers of rectongulor core-stones seporqted from eqch other by poriiolly decomposed gruss. Up to 17 m thick

Zone 4
Eose of weqthering UP to 30 m thick


Portiolly weolhered rock, resulting from the initiol Penetrotion of ociduloted wqter ond opening up of joints \





? iup

(b):Vy'eath$rd larer ronsisling

6&i}l RrsiCual ddds + qruss + ol

Zono 3 (7"17rn): Qruss + 16q6

Eridr.laldeb s !!1lll


rumber ot aedaioular


Zo,re 4


oli{irls. solli

Fi})te 24. Ruxion ond Berry's



Deep Weothering Profiles



Different qronite londforms
environmen l5

moy evolve under vorying conditions in


In lempetote lotitudes, groniie is o highly resistonl rock, forming
ond uplonds (e.9. Dortmoor, SW Englond)


In tropicol hunid regions, it is prone to ropid chemicdl weqthering which otfo.ks the feldspor ond mico io give o thick loyer of decomposed rock
chemical weolhe' mg theidepth of regolith in the hunid fropics is the greotesf in the world; exceeding 30m in some regions. The produci of deep weotherinq is the forrnotion of fors.

of lety active

i) Exfoliotion Domes


Dome-shoped hill with o bore rock surfoce
Possess curvilinear sheet

* * +


Well-developed in mcssive coorse-grcined rocks (gronite) process of exfoliotion
Egs. Sugor Losf Mountoin (Brozil), Pork (UsA)

by the

Holf Dome in Yosemiie Notionql

Figure 25. Exfoliotion dome in yosemite Notionol Pork, USA

ii) Boulder Fields /



Occur in oreos where gronife hos 6een weathered into smoller boulders by frost ocfion ond hove dccumuloted in o low lying oreo.
Boulders con olso be tronsported by wqter to resi ot o low lying oreo

Fi})re 26. A boulder field in Conodo weothered by frost oction.

iii) Tofoni
Tofoni ore deep co\ilies or hollows produced by solt crystql growth in the sides of rock ouicrops ond boulders.


occur in rnony krnds of rocks, but ore usuolly found in gronulor or crystolline
rocks such os sondstones or gronites

Tcfoni usuolly occur in groups, in coosiol regions or deserts. Individuol hollows ronge in depth and diomeier from a few centimeterc 10 severol
tneters Formotion storis when wofer brings dissolved minerols to the ioints qnd other lines of weoknesses of ihe rock. When the wofer evoporotes, -ihe minerols form crystdls fhof force smoll porticles \o lloke oft the rock. The hollows ore enlarged by progressive floking of the interior surfoces ond their grohulor disjnlegrotion. Wihd probobly removes loosenad moteriol frorn lhe co'rilies





lofoni in the Nomib Deserf

FiEtrc 28. Groups of srnoll hollows known qs tofoni

iv) Tors
Tors ore mosses of spheroidolly-weothered boulders often ol yonite which hove the boses an the bedrock ond surrounded by weofhered debris


They are considered relics (remndnts) of fortner londscopes ond resull frbm long-term differentiol weothering ond erosion of fhe bedrock which, ofter the removol of the weolhered moteriol, leqds ro lhe emetgence of the resis-ton-f rocks 05 tors.
They ore usuqlly less thon 30m in heighf


Upper ports of iors often comprise detoched ond rouhded corestones, with diometers ronging from 3m lo 8m

+ +

The cuboidol sfruclure

of grdnite is

well-displcyed when

the tors


exposed onto the eorth's surfoce.

Although fors ore found widely ond ore not res-tTicted lo gronitic rocks, the rocky tors of Dortmoon in soufh-west Englond, ore the besf known

Figure 29. Hound Tor, Dortnoor




,iL The formstion of tors hqs generoted much debote omong geomorphologists. Vorious hypotheses h@te 6een proposed io exploin the formolion of Jors. A common feoture omong the hypotheses is thol tors ore formed in oreos of widely spoced joinfing ond thetefote ore more resistqnt to weothering ond
erosion thon surrounding oreos with closely spoced joints.


deep weothering theory (in which weqthering fook ploce subsurfoce/underground).

The nore widely accepted theory

of tor formotion is thoi of

Linton's Theory


Tor Formdlion


Linton (1955), who worked on the Dortmoor Tors, proposed o two-stoge model thdt involves o prolonged period of deep chemicol weothering during ihe worm cnd humid Pliocene Period.

',.L Feldspor is lhe leost resistont minerol to the chemicql weathering process of hydrolysis while quqrlz is the most resistont minerol. Deep chemicol weotherihg of feldspor is most octive in worm ond humid conditions, especially in grqnite with well-developed joini systems ollowing gteotet permeobilify.


The moin processd involved in deep chernicol weotheting of gronite include hydrolysis qnd solution which occur when ociduloted roinwoter penelrqte olong joints into the body of the gronitic moss. fn hydrolysis, the hydrogen ions in wqter reoct direcfly with feldspor to form kqolinite.

{' + ;!

The joints ollow the reody penetrotion of woter ond increqse the subsurfoce oreq of the rock for physicol ond chemicol ottock.
The pottern of the orthogonol joints delermines the pqttern of the tor thol is formed. The widening of moderotely-spoced ond widely-spoced joints will result in ihe formotion of rectongulor blocks or corestones.

The corestones becqme smoother qnd rounder over titne when chemicol processes selectively ottcck the edges of the rectongulor blocks, resulting in spheroidol weothering qs grqnite is mcde up of minerols of vorying




This prodlces q fine regolith (sond ond cloy) in closely spoced joints corestones in noderotely /widely loinled rock.

this is followed by the removol of the r€golath by solifluction which is the process whereby moisture-lqden soil flows downslope, during the periglociol Pleistocene Period ond the.iors will be
ternperote oreos,


oreqs, fhe finer regolilh will be removed ond eroded during o period when vegetolion is less dense due lo lower precipitotion, exposing ihe unweothered blocks of gronite tors.

fn tropicql

For tors 1o be formed, the rote 'fhe weof herinq process.

of erosionol stripping must be foster thon

Figure 30. The fornoiion
Tors in the hopics

of tors (D. L.


C oselv sooced nrore decp

pinrs 2 yvearhered

Widely sp;ced ioinLs

q€alhered essdeeply

Cl0s6ly iointe


Overlhousands ol y€rrs werlherinq and ri\re6 reiroved he brolen roclr

Tors slood tL.ll

Figure 31. Forhotioh of lors in the t.opics

c0rusloner emBrgiag


\i/earhcring pef slratl ng

!lon9 joinlt

The formofion of tors in the sub-humid tropics

Figure 33. Formotion of Tors



-Sepwinar 2
(r ) D€ep .h emi.a

werth ering



by etrip pin


Linton (19s5) arsued that the well developed jointinq system (of irrequla. spacins)was chemlcilly weathered. This occurted undei humid conditions during wanrr, wet periods in the Tetiary era. Decomposition was most rapid alonq joint planes. Whe.e the distance betweea the joint plares wrs argest, masses of qtanite .emained relatively unweatheted and formed. essentially,

embryonictD6- 5ubseq u€n! denudrt'on, perhaps under Pe.iqlaci:
! nweath.red blocks as to15 (Fiqure 2.22).


.onditions, removed the residue of weatherinq, leavi.q th€

An altemrtive theory prcposed by Palmcrand Nielson (1962) also relates tor formation to the varied spdcing ofjoints within the qr.nite. They believe that frost action under periglacial conditions

Tols are a qood

Nmple ofequiffnality. This means that diffetent processes.an produce the samc end result- Thus it is hiqhly
debatable whether tors arc formed by chemical weathednq or mechanical weathering, or a €ombination ofthe two- Whatis clear however. is th.t the joints and beddinq planes, and the qrctri strength and resist:nce ofthe rocks have dcteniined the dist.ib ution oftou on the landscape.

the dominant procesr. this led to the removal ofthe mo.e

closely iointed po.tions ofthe rock. The evidence lendstosupPoti their idea, !s the amount of kaolin in thejoinis is limited; so too is the amount ofrounding that ha! occurcd- Both ofthese features are expected to be dominant if chemica I weathering were the main process in operation. Palmerand Neikon sugqestthat intense frost shati:ering followed by solifluction, .emoved the finer material and

leftthe tors stinding (Fiqure 2-23).
(.) Fron.cfi on d!rinq peiqlacial periodr



Frostactioninwelt jojntcd rrcas loosensblo.ks





A Level - Geology & Geography

The Formation of Tors on the Dartmoor Granite - an outline
The processes resulting in the formation of the Da.tmoor tors started about 280 m:llion years ago as the granite fofting Da{mooa cooled and solidified from molten rock at a temperature of 90O - 1000'C. The minerals which make up granite crystallised as closely interlocking g.ains forming the hard rock,

Granite is foamed of ihree main minerals: Quaatz - appearing in the granite as translucenl. slightly greyish looking grains; Feldspar - white grains. sometimes stained yellow:sh or pink (in parts of the granite feldspar forms large white crystals); and Eiotite - dark brown glistening flakes.

The setting of the initial

The sti{l hot but solid granite continued cool. Contraction caused the formation

starting thc formation of horizontaljoints. Thesejoints tend to follow the shape of the surrounding lancj. They are usually horizontal on hill top tors and may be inclined on valley'
side tors.

to of

joints (open fractures) usually near vertical, in the graalte. :]ot water moving lhrough thespjoinrs com-nonly led Io lheir becoming lined or filled by minerals sLrch as quartz or a black mineral called tourmaline or both. The orientation of thejoint pattern was controlled by pressure in the earth's crust. The_joint . pattern was accentlrated and modified by
actual movements along fractures called fau:ts.



The unroofing of the

The cover of rocks above the granite, mainly slate and sandstoae, which was 2 3 km thick, was worn away qulckly, and the fragments of granite and .elated rocks can be found among the New Red Sandstone rocks of Devon todayThe removal of ihe pressurc of the overlying rock allowed the granite to expand upwards

Kaolinisation is one of the importani to the breakdown of the solid granite. it is caused by the circulation of water that has been heated within tlx) granite- The feldspar minerals comprising some 30-40o% of the granite are decomposcd lorming rho wh,re clay. kaolin. fho m riur area of kaolinisation is aroLrnd Lee Moor on the southern edge of the granite, but many smaller areas of kaolinisation occur. WhitewonFs for example.3km SSE of Princetown, as the name suggests, ,s an area where the granite is more or less kaolinised. This process also affccted joints and faults o!r smaller areas of granite, across the moor. This started the process of shaping thc tors as the surrounding gra.lite was softened and weakened in placcs. The kaolinisation process probably continued for a considerable length of time as heat continued to be generated in the granite by its natu.al radioactivity.
processes Ieading

Deep weathering of the

The results

of all these events

A considerable lcngth ol time eLapsed before the next major tor forming process occLrrred. Some 60 - 30 mllllon ycars ago the granite stood above sea levei but the climate was subt.opical (hol and at times wet), as the area that is now Britain was nearer lhe equator ln such condit ons water containing acids from rottinq plants is very rcactlve and the minerals, aga n mainly the feldspa.s of granite, were attacked and weakened. The more stable mineral quartz was much less affected. The weathering mainly took place along the lines of thejoints through which water moved. Where joints were closely spaced the indlvidual mineral grains of the granite becamc more or less completely scparated to a considerable depth.

are Dartmoor Tors

Dartmoor then and now
Approximately 30 million years ago



lce Age, the

final phase

In cold conditions r ocks arc not affected by clrem , dl w.aLh, r'rq procas,o. LLrt maior mechanica{ forces can take effect. Of these the most impo.lent is the expansion of freezing watet The deeply weathcred granjte was forccd apart and broken up into blocks by be ng subjected Lo frequent freezing and thawing during the cold periods of the lc(} Age, between 2 mlllion to 10,000 years ago. The fo.ce of gravity was also important, movinq the loose material downh r lhis rnovorn.n. ,,rlled 'oliflui:on (soii flow), was aidcd by the ground below the surface beinq permanenlly frozen. ln the summer the sLrrface layers thawed to produce a wet mush of debais which could slide and flow downhill over the frozen subsoil. Even large blocks and boulders were moved in this process, as much as a kilometre in some parts of the Moor The result is the boulder fields or clitter surroLlnding the ton and the cover of qravelly, broken'up granite, called gaowan iocally and Head by geologists. The flnal result was ihe removal of the weathered and loose material l"rom around cores of relatively unaltered granite.

How Dattmoor might havc looked between 30-60 million ycars ago. Densely covered wnh ltpps and v?geL3tion. lhe undqlyinq granite is becoming deeply weatherecl by acidic water penetrating bctween thejoints. Thc shape of a tor is being formed in thF Iess altered granite.

at the present day. The effects of the lce Age have strippcd away the weathercd debris leaving clitter surrounding the bare granite of the tor.
The same scene


€:i3:! * ;:;i:t!i

Fi .ia€is




E;iii;iiiis ;q 1-:i:E;. ; :!
:i u;t;:e: ; ;; ;;ii:i: : +; iilfi:g s:i o oo


F::, sr;gi ;E;e :Ei!!
FEii ::p:! :;9: 5:eEe
--: h';



:i {E;Ei iq

oo0 ;i:!:+ it

,l;;i; ii t!;;E;;i!iii; giig:


ii .E!;






::';. i 5i!;!;r gq:i5 ; ;€€F;!= o oo

riE; r :.;cFi; >:!: I ;iei:: !!!: ; EcES:: :=iic : !EE.'F:


wah.hc support ofthe

Devon RIGS Group,

lLe Action lot Wildlifa rh. Dartmoor aiodiversity PDject



r! rr r.f.r.rlirn. rrrl ir : !i ol olrrx



Dandoor National Park Auth.'ily or the vL/or.l wrd. ircb <hitt,rwwv, danmoornpa !ov !k-

0a{Jnoor tl.tiotral Prrk Aunrorjly, P.rkc, Bov.y Trn.ey, Ncur'ton Abbol,

fhis publicztion may ]'c photocopi.d fot tducational putposes.

lrnvo. lOr3 slQ


mril: edd..tionsdadrnoornp. oov uk

v) fnselbergs


6ermon word meoning'aslond mounloin'.

+ *

Ate steep sided isolqted hills stonding prominenlly high obove surrounding plqins /pedimenf Are usuolly found in lhe seosonolly

or semi orid tropics

The noture of lhe joihls determihes ihe shope of the inselberg thof is forned. The shope of the inselberg is determined by the bosol surfoce of weothering (BSW) which is influenced by the jointing potterns.

"l If

the BSW is q series of domicol rises qnd bosins, the inselbery formed will be o domed inselberg. If the BSW is irregulor, o blocky inselberg will be formed.



Figure 35. A dorned inselberg in Nigeriq


of fnselbergs


Domed inselberg (bornhardt)

. . . . . . . .

Hos o rounded summit profile qnd mossive curvilineor sheet joints Smooth convex profile leoding down fo steep-sided or overhonging wqlls

They rise obove neqr-level ploins, their sides ore qlmost verticol with
unbroken, 5mooth rock-fqces qnd curved summits (-tops). They include the high symmetricol dome, osymnetricol dome ond low wholebocked dome cqlled 'ruwore'.

Domed inselbergs ore chorocterized by massive sheet joints neor lhe surfoce of the dome. The sheef joints develop os q result of pressure releose. On the summii of the dome, rock sheels moy split qwqy. once delached, individuql sheets qre themselves broken olong curved ond rodiol froctures. There is q shdrp chqnge of grodieni belweEn the sides of the inselberg ond the plqin. This shqrp chonge of grodient is cqlled the knick.

Figure 36. Domed Inselberg (Bornhordi)

Figure 37. Ruwore


Blocky inselbergs

. . . . .

Developed where rectongulqr or orthogonql jointing is doninoni Less common qs compored to doned inselbergs Have qn oppeoronce similor to tors. The knick is olso aleolure of the blocky inselbErg.

Stnoll cove-like feotures moy be found qt the knick, produced when horizontol jointing ollows concenlrolEd chemicol ollock.

Figure 38.A blocky inselberg

Fornotion of fnselberg
Exhumotion hypothesis





Fig 39o. The development of ruwores ond low domes by diffe.e^tial deep w€othering ond subseguent surfoce stripping of the deep wealhered loyer


Fuliy d€velopsd dom€
resulting lrom one episodB o, d€sp weath€rinq
and exhumaliot

Dome su.tace

dis:ntegr3led by orf olialion
ar|d block weathering


High dome produced

Figure 39b. The developrnent


high dones in o second phose ond stripping

of weothering

Exhumofion hypothesis (2 stoges

of Formoiion)

.t + il'

Proposed by J D Folconer (1911)

Chordcterisiic of seosonolly humid tropics Inselbergs ond their surrounding ploins qre the result of deep weothering followed by removol (or stripping) of the weothered loyer ond scorp relreot ovet geologicol time. fnselbergs originqte qs domicol rises below the ground surfoce which ore loter exposed ot lhe surfoce by the removol of the ovetlying weolhered loyer (or soprolite).
Deep chemicol weothering during q humid phose (pluviol Period). Chemicol weothering occurs in zones of closely-spoced joints ond only superficiolly ot widely-spoced join.ts. Therefore, the depth of weothering is unequol from
ploce to ploce.



+ 't il ,{

At closely-spoced loints, intense deep chemicol weofhering leod to formotion of bosins. At widely spoced joints, domicql rises ore formed.
The cctuol form on inselberg will foke depends on the spocing of ihe joints, which deterrnines the shope of the bosol surfqce of weothering.. Widely-spoced joints produce bornhqrdts ond close-spoced joints Produce cqstle koppies.


of the regolifh by surfoce wosh reveols the domicol rise os o

rull/ore. Successive episodes of stripping reveal more of the bosol surfoce of weothering ond the inselberg 'grows' in height.


Stripping of regolith mqy be facilitoted by:

. .

Uplift ond streom rejuvenolion (due to o foll in bose level of erosion).. The renewed energy of the streom will eqsily remove1he weothered noteriolso thot o new, lower ploin is formed.
climotic chong'.2 from a wei (pluviol) to qn or(d period (inter-pluviol) \. This reduces the roie of deep chemical weothering, couses fhe vegetation to degenerote ond ollows mote effective surfdce wosh lo strip ihe regolith durihg periods of episodic roinfoll ond wei seosons.


Thus, o duol process cycle in inselberg formqtion tokes ploce:

. . {

A process of sub-deriol differeniiol weothering; Exhunotion by the stripping owoy of the surrounding weothered mqteriol.

Differentiol wedthering: weothering is unequol or vories from one ploce to onother in lhe oteo: weolheting will be more intense ot pla.es where tock joints ore numerous ond closely spoced thon ot ploces where rock joints ore few ond further opart.
Sub-oeriol uedthe ng: weqthering which tokes ploce below the ground

* &

one difficulty posed by this hypolhesis is thot fhe qeot height of some domes (more thon 30 m) connot be exploined by o single episode of
weothering ond stripping.

i! If

is likely thot severol episodes of weothering ond stripping produced the very lotge domes, especiolly if the raie ol weothering of the exposed domes logged behind thot of the ploins.

vi) Cqstle koppies

"t +

These rock piles of ongulqr ondjoint-bounded gronite block arc fotmed by the disinfegrqtion of domed ond blocky inselbergs

Due to the presence of rectongulor or sheel joints, domed ond blocky inselbergs ore subjected to prolonged physicol ond deep chemicol weothering ond collopse, cousing block ond gronulor disintegrotion.
These processes result in the formotion of smqll rocky hills r4ith costelloted profiles, known os costle koppies.


Figure 4Q. Costle Koppies

Figll"e 4l . Cqstle Koppies

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