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Chapter 6 – Weathering, Soil & Erosion  Surface Area.

 Surface Area. The greater the surface area, the faster the weathering rate
There are more surfaces to be weathered.
Weathering – is a process by which rocks are broken down due to exposure to processes
occurring at the Earth’s surface.  Rock composition. Some minerals are more resistant than others
– it involves little or no movement of the broken particles For example, quartz is more resistant (harder) than calcite
Two types:
1. MECHANICAL WEATHERING - occurs when physical forces break rock into smaller
 Climate - long term pattern of moisture and temperature
and smaller pieces without changing the rock’s mineral composition.
Weathering rates are faster in warm, wet climates
2. CHEMICAL WEATHERING - is the transformation of rock into one or more new
EROSION – the removal of weathered rocks that occurs when water, wind, ice, or gravity
Causes of Mechanical Weathering:
transports the material to a new location. Agents of erosion may carry the weathered material
a. Frost Wedging – the mechanical breakup of rock caused by the expansion of
at great distances and finally deposit it as layers of sediment at Earth’s surface.
freezing water in cracks and crevices
Talus – an accumulation of loose, angular rocks at the base of a cliff,
Agents of erosion:
created when the rocks broke off as a result of frost wedging.
- the means by which erosion is accomplished depends to a large extent
upon the climate of the locality.
b. Abrasion - the grinding and rounding of rocks surfaces by friction and impact
1. Wind - most effective in picking up the rock grains & moving in the dry climates.
c. Unloading.......Reduced pressure on igneous rock causes it to expand and allows
slabs of outer rock to break off in layers in a process called exfoliation.
2. Water
a. streams of water which visibly erode the products of rock weathering.
d. Biological Activity….. The activity of organisms, including plants, burrowing
animals, and humans, can also cause mechanical weathering.
3. Glacier - transport large rock fragments which acts as sharp cutting
tools to scour the solid bedrock.
Causes of Chemical Weathering:
4. Gravity - constant factor on earth.
a. Dissolution – process in which mineral or rock dissolves, forming a solution.
Example: Halite dissolves so rapidly and completely in water.
Mass Wasting (Mass Movement)
• Carbonic Acid in water dissolves Calcite. This chemical weathering can
- the transfer of rock and soil downslope due to gravity
hollow out underground Caverns - Among the factors that commonly trigger mass movements are saturation of surface
materials with water, oversteepening of slopes, removal of vegetation, and
b. Hydrolysis – a process in which a mineral reacts with water to form a new earthquakes.
mineral that has water as part of its structure. - Geologists classify mass movements based on the kind of material that moves, how
Example: Feldspar, the most abundant mineral in Earth’s crust, weathers by it moves, and the speed of movement.
hydrolysis to form clay. TYPES:
• Rockfalls
c. Oxidation – a process in which a mineral decomposes when it reacts with - A rockfall occurs when rocks or rocks fragments fall freely through the air.
• Example: Oxidation of minerals with iron (magnetite, pyrite) results in the • Slides
formation of rust or iron oxide. - In a slide, a block of material moves suddenly along a flat, inclined surface.
- Slides that include segments of bedrock are called rockslides.
How fast a rock weathers depends on 3 factors:
• Flows
 Surface area - Flows are mass movements of material containing a large amount of water.
 Rock composition - Mudflows move quickly and carry a mixture of soil, rock, and water that has a
 Climate consistency of wet concrete.
- Earthflows move relatively slowly and carry clay-rich sediment.

• Creep 2. Time
- the name given to a very slow movement of material downhill. • Important in all geologic processes
- it can move large amounts of material over a long period of time. • The longer a soil has been forming, the thicker it becomes.
3. Climate
• Soil is part of the regolith that supports the growth of plants. • Greatest effect on soil formation
4. Organism
-Regolith is the layer of rock and mineral fragments that covers most of Earth’s land surface. • Organisms influence the soil's physical and
chemical properties.
Soil Composition: 5. Slope
Soil has four major components: mineral matter, or broken-down rock; humus, which is the • Angle
decayed remains of organisms; water; and air. - Steep slopes often have poorly developed soils.
• Soil Texture - Optimum slope is a flat-to-undulating upland surface.
Texture refers to the proportions of different particle sizes. • Orientation, or direction the slope is facing,
- Sand (large size) influences soil formation.
- Silt - Soil Temperature
- Clay (small size) - Moisture
Loam (a mixture of all three sizes) is best suited for plant life.
 Soil varies in composition, texture, structure, and color at different depths.
• Soil Structure  Soil horizons are zones or layers of soil. A soil profile is a vertical section through
Soil particles clump together to give a soil its structure. all the soil horizons.
• Soil Formation • The A horizon is commonly known as topsoil.
The most important factors in soil formation are parent material, time, climate, organisms, • The B horizon is subsoil and contains clay particles washed out from the A horizon.
and slope. • The C horizon is between B horizon and unaltered parent material.

Factors in soil formation

1. Parent Material
• Residual soil—parent material is the bedrock
• Transported soil—parent material has been carried from elsewhere and deposited
3. In no-till farming, farmers leave the stalks from old crops lying on the field while the
 Three common types of soil are pedalfer, pedocal, and laterite. newer crops grow. The old stalks protect the soil from rain and help reduce erosion.
1. Pedalfer 4. Cover crops are crops that are planted between harvests of a main crop. Cover crops
- Best developed under forest vegetation can help to replace nutrients in the soil.
- Accumulation of iron oxides and aluminum-rich clays in the B horizon 5. Crop Rotation – planting different crops in the field every year
2. Pedocal
- Accumulates calcium carbonate
- Associated with drier grasslands
3. Laterite
- Hot, wet, tropical climates
- Intense chemical weathering
Humus is the organic material that forms in soil from the remains of plants and animals.
These remains are broken down into nutrients by decomposers, such as bacteria and fungi. It
is humus that gives dark-colored soils their color.

• Soil is non-renewable resource.

-It provides:
Storage of Water


Crop rotation


Soil Problems:
• Desertification – process wherein an infertile soil becomes a desert.
• Erosion – happens when wind, water, or gravity transports soil and sediment from
one place to another.

Farming Methods that can minimize soil damage:

1. Contour Plowing - means plowing a field in rows that run across the slope of a hill.
2. Terraces - change one very steep field into many smaller, flatter fields.