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Weathering & Erosion. Choose OK. What is weathering?. Weathering is a set of physical, chemical and biological processes that change the physical and chemical properties of rocks and soil at or near the earth's surface. More about weathering.

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what is weathering
What is weathering?

Weathering is a set of physical, chemical and biological processes that change the physical and chemical properties of rocks and soil at or near the earth's surface.

more about weathering
More about weathering
  • Definition – the breakdown of rock to form sediment [very small pieces of rock]
    • Weathering happens to rocks that are NOT MOVING
    • Weathering is part of the Rock Cycle
there are three types of weathering
There are three types of weathering
  • Mechanical [sometimes called physical]
  • Chemical
  • Biological

Mechanical weathering breaks rocks down into smaller pieces.

Types of mechanical weathering include frost wedging, exfoliation, and thermal expansion.


Chemical weathering breaks rocks down chemically adding or removing chemical elements, and changes them into other materials.

Chemical weathering consists of chemical reactions, most of which involve water.


Biological weathering is the breakdown of rock caused by the action of living organisms, including plants, burrowing animals, and lichens.

A lichen is a combination of fungus and algae, living together in a symbiotic relationship.

Lichens can live on bare rock, and they break down rocks by secreting acids and other chemicals.

In mechanical weathering, a rock is broken down into smaller pieces without changing its mineral composition.
observe the effects of mechanical weathering

Observe the effects of mechanical weathering

View Website

View Website 2

Website 3


Discuss with your partner how exfoliation, abrasion and thermal expansion are examples of mechanical weathering


In chemical weathering, a rock is broken down by chemical reactions that change its mineral composition and physical and chemical properties

Chemical weathering happens when the minerals that make up a rock are changed, leading to the disintegration of the rock
Chemical weathering happens quickly in warm, moist environments because water is needed for the chemical reactions.

The warm weather speeds up the reactions.

Not all minerals are prone to chemical weathering. For example, feldspar and quartz, are common minerals in the rock granite, have very different levels of resistance to chemical weathering.

Quartz doesn’t weather very easily, but feldspar does. Over a long time, it chemically changes into clay minerals.

view the following websites to learn more about chemical weathering
View the following websites to learn more about chemical weathering
  • 1.) Feldspar to clay
  • 2.) Examples of more chemical weathering

Biological weathering involves processes that can be either chemical or physical in nature.Biological weathering can be considered special types of mechanical or chemical weathering.

some biological weathering processes are
Some biological weathering processes are:
  • 1. Rocks can break because of animal burrowing.
  • 2. Tree roots grow into cracks and widen them, which helps physical weathering.
  • 3. Bacteria, lichens and other organisms secrete acidic solutions, which helps chemical weathering.
what is erosion
What is erosion?

Erosion is defined as the removal and movement of earth materials by natural agents.

Some of these agents include glaciers, wind, water, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, mud flows, and avalanches.

how are erosion weathering different
How are erosion & weathering different?

Weathering involves two processes

[mechanical, chemical]

that often work together to break down rocks. Both processes occur in place. No movement is involved in weathering.

As soon as a rock particle (loosened by one of the two weathering processes) moves, we call it erosion or mass wasting.

Mass wasting is simply movement down slope due to gravity.

Rock falls, slumps, and debris flows are all examples of mass wasting. We call it erosion if the rock particle is moved by some flowing agent such as air, water or ice.

In a nutshell: if a particle is loosened, chemically or mechanically, but stays

put, we call it weathering.

Once the particle starts moving, we call it erosion.

Water is the most important erosional agent and erodes most often as running water in streams or rivers.
Water in all its forms is erosional. Raindrops create splasherosion that moves tiny particles of soil. Water collecting on the surface of the soil collects as it moves towards tiny streams and creates sheet erosion.

Erosion by wind is known as aeolian erosion (named after Aeolus, the Greek god of winds) and usually occurs in deserts. Aeolian erosion of sand in the desert is partially responsible for the formation of sand dunes.

The erosive power of moving ice is actually a greater than the power of water. however since water is much more common, it is responsible for a greater amount of erosion on the earth's surface.
Glaciers cause erosion two ways - they pluck and abrade. Plucking takes place by water entering cracks under the glacier, freezing, and breaking off pieces of rock that are then moved by the glacier. Abrasion cuts into the rock under the glacier, scooping rock up like a bulldozer and smoothing and polishing the rock surface.
Waves in oceans and other large bodies of water cause coastal erosion.

The power of ocean waves is awesome; large storm waves can produce 2000 pounds of pressure per square foot. The pure energy of waves along with the chemical content of the water is what erodes the rock of the coastline.


Review weathering & erosion vocabulary with online flashcards. Some of the terms on the cards have not been covered during this lesson. Read them anyway; it never hurts to expand your vocabulary!

the end

The End!

Double check your answers & turn them in!