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CHAPTER 5

WEATHERING, SOIL &


EROSION
Yosemite Valley, California

Mountains Carved by Glaciers


Grand Canyon, Arizona

Carved out by the


Colorado River
Bryce Canyon, Utah

Acidic Rainfall has worn away these rocks.


WEATHERING
• Process by which rocks are broken down due
to exposure to processes occurring at the
Earth’s surface
• Caused by
– Water
– Waves
– Wind
– Gravity
– Glaciers
WEATHERING

Two types:
1. MECHANICAL WEATHERING - occurs when
physical forces break rock into smaller and
smaller pieces without changing the rock’s
mineral composition.

2. CHEMICAL WEATHERING - is the


transformation of rock into one or more new
compounds.
MECHANICAL WEATHERING
1. Frost wedging
• The mechanical breakup of rock caused by the
expansion of freezing water in cracks and crevices

• Sections of rock that are wedged loose may tumble


into large piles called talus, which typically form at
the base of steep, rocky cliffs.
MECHANICAL WEATHERING
2. Abrasion
• The wearing away of rock material by grinding action
• Usually caused by sediment in Wind, Water, and Glaciers
Wind abrasion - sandblasting effect on stationary
rocks as seen here in Arches National Park
Hydraulic abrasion - water & sediments flowing over
boulders as seen here in Ohiopyle State Park, Pennsylvania

Notice the rounded river rocks


MECHANICAL WEATHERING
3. 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.
MECHANICAL WEATHERING
4. Biological Activity
• The activity of organisms, including plants, burrowing
animals, and humans, can also cause mechanical
weathering.
CHEMICAL WEATHERING
1. Hydrolysis
• Carbonic Acid in water
dissolves Calcite. This
chemical weathering
can hollow out
underground Caverns

Limestone and Dolomite both dissolve because


they contain Calcite
CHEMICAL WEATHERING
2. Oxidation

• Oxidation of minerals with


iron (magnetite, pyrite)
results in the formation of
rust or iron oxide.
• This is why Mars is the red
planet
• Copper turns rocks green
Rate of WEATHERING

• How fast a rock weathers depends on


3 factors:
–Surface area
–Rock composition
–Climate
Rate of WEATHERING
• Surface area
– The greater the surface area, the faster the
weathering rate
– There are more surfaces to be weathered
Rate of WEATHERING

• Rock composition
– Some minerals are more
resistant than others
– For example, quartz is more
resistant (harder) than calcite

Quartz Calcite
Rate
Rateof
ofWEATHERING
Weathering
• Climate
(long term pattern of moisture and temperature)

– Weathering rates are faster in warm, wet climates

Desert vs. Rainforest


Rate of Weathering
EROSION

The removal and transport of weathered


materials by natural agents such as

1. Running water
2. Glaciers
3. Gravity
4. Wind
5. Waves
Mass Wasting
Mass Wasting (Mass Movement)
- the transfer of rock and soil downslope due to
gravity
- Among the factors that commonly trigger
mass movements are saturation of surface
materials with water, oversteepening of
slopes, removal of vegetation, and
earthquakes.
- Geologists classify mass movements based
on the kind of material that moves, how it
moves, and the speed of movement.
Mass Wasting

TYPES:
• Rockfalls
- A rockfall occurs when rocks or rocks
fragments fall freely through the air.

• Slides
- In a slide, a block of material moves
suddenly along a flat, inclined surface.
- Slides that include segments of bedrock are
called rockslides.
Mass Wasting

TYPES:
• Flows
- Flows are mass movements of material
containing a large amount of water.
- Mudflows move quickly and carry a mixture
of soil, rock, and water that has a consistency
of
wet concrete.
- Earthflows move relatively slowly and carry
clay-rich sediment.
Mass Wasting
TYPES:
• Creep
- the name given to a very slow movement of material
downhill.
• it can move
• large amounts of material over a long period of time.
SOIL
• Soil is part of the regolith
that supports the growth
of plants.
-Regolith is the layer of rock and
mineral fragments that covers most
of Earth’s land surface.
Soil Composition:
Soil has four major components:
mineral matter, or broken-
down rock; humus, which is
the decayed remains of Composition by Volume of
Good-Quality Soil
organisms; water; and air.
SOIL
• Soil Texture
Texture refers to the proportions of different particle sizes.
- Sand (large size)
- Silt
- Clay (small size)
Loam (a mixture of all three sizes) is best suited for plant life.

• Soil Structure
Soil particles clump together to give a soil its structure.

• Soil Formation
The most important factors in soil formation are parent material,
time, climate, organisms, and slope.
SOIL Formation
FACTORS
1. Parent Material
• Residual soil—parent material is the bedrock
• Transported soil—parent material has been carried from
elsewhere and deposited
SOIL Formation
2. Time
• Important in all geologic processes
• The longer a soil has been forming, the thicker it becomes.
3. Climate
• Greatest effect on soil formation
4. Organism
• Organisms influence the soil's physical and
chemical properties.
5. Slope
• Angle
- Steep slopes often have poorly developed soils.
- Optimum slope is a flat-to-undulating upland surface.
• Orientation, or direction the slope is facing,
influences soil formation.
- Soil Temperature
- Moisture
SOIL Profile
Soil varies in composition,
texture, structure, and color
at different depths.
Soil horizons are zones or
layers of soil. A soil profile
is a vertical section through
all the soil horizons.
• The A horizon is commonly
known as topsoil.
• The B horizon is subsoil and
contains clay particles
washed out from the A
horizon.
• The C horizon is between B
horizon and unaltered
parent material.
SOIL Types

 Three common types of soil are


pedalfer, pedocal, and laterite.
1. Pedalfer
- Best developed under forest
vegetation
- Accumulation of iron oxides and
aluminum-rich clays in the B horizon
Humus is the organic material
2. Pedocal that forms in soil from the
- Accumulates calcium carbonate remains of plants and animals.
- Associated with drier grasslands These remains are broken down
into nutrients by decomposers,
3. Laterite such as bacteria and fungi. It is
- Hot, wet, tropical climates humus that gives dark-colored
- Intense chemical weathering soils their color.
Importance of Soil
• Soil is non-renewable resource.
-It provides:
Nutrients
Habitat
Storage of Water

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.
Soil Conservation
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.
3. In no-till farming, farmers leave the stalks from old crops
lying on the field while the newer crops grow. The old
stalks protect the soil from rain and help reduce erosion.
4. Cover crops are crops that are planted between harvests
of a main crop. Cover crops can help to replace nutrients
in the soil.
5. Crop Rotation – planting different crops in the field every
year