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
– Works better in a cool and dry climate

• Chemical Weathering
– Works better in a hot and moist environment – More water = more weathering

WHICH DIAGRAM IS AN ARID CLIMATE? HUMID CLIMATE?
A B

Humid – more rounded

Arid – more 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 B

C

D

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?