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Types Of Erosion

Updated on October 22, 2011

Erosion is a natural geological process in which the breakdown of rocks under sea and on land occurs due to natural forces. Erosion is a complex and a highly important natural phenomenon.

It is due to erosion that the earth has shaped it self over the years. Not only is this phenomenon responsible for the formation of mountains, valleys and canyons, it has also played a part in determining the course of the human civilization.

Erosion is a very slow and gradual process which takes place over the course of million years.

Erosion can be caused due to various natural components. Based on their cause there are following types of erosion:

  • Erosion due to water
  • Erosion due to wind
  • Erosion due to gravity
  • Erosion due to glaciers

Soil erosion caused by rainwater.
Soil erosion caused by rainwater.

Erosion Due To Water

Water is a major cause of erosion of rocks on land. Water can be a very destructive agent as it is capable of eroding even the hardest of rocks.

The process of erosion by water generally involves following actions:

  • Weathering
  • Transportation

Weathering consists of series of mechanical and chemical processes which these decompose the rock. These processes are:

  • Dissolution: ¬†It breaks rocks into fragments.
  • Abrasion: ¬†Continues the wearing down process of rock by friction.
  • Corrosion: This slowly deteriorates the minerals inside the rock by certain chemical agents.

Transportation means that the broken particles travel along water. These particles may settle to form other rocks or may settle under water.

Valleys and caves are examples of water corrosion of rocks.

There are two types of erosions caused by water:

  • Erosion due to running water
  • Erosion due to waves.

Cliff eroding due to water.
Cliff eroding due to water.
Erosion caused by sea waves.
Erosion caused by sea waves.
Rock eroded by wind into unique formation
Rock eroded by wind into unique formation

Erosion Due To Running Water

The running water here includes: heavy rainfall, rivers and streams.

Heavy rainfall can cause a slow and a gradual erosion of rocks as high velocity drops of water falling frequently on rocks allow them to slowly and gradually wither.

A network of trees and plants may prevent this erosion as they may fall down as a result of rainfall and settle on land, hence protecting the rocks and sediments.

Erosion due to rainfall is also called sheet erosion. Flooding and heavy rainfall are a very important factor in the erosion of rocks over the centuries.

Streams and rivers are a very major cause of erosion. The running water withers the rocks and carries with the particles.

The fine particles are found at the edges, the large particles are deeper in the water and the coarser particles are at the bottom.

Erosion Due To Waves

Waves of the sea and ocean cause erosion of the rocks on lands. When high velocity powerful waves keep on hitting the rocks they gradually erode. The particles are then carried by the tides.

Erosion By Wind

Ike water wind is also a very destructive natural component which can erode the hardest of rocks.

Fast moving, high velocity, ferocious winds are responsible for a lot of erosion that has occurred and is being occurred naturally.

The erosion that occurs by winds is slightly different from the erosion which occurs by two major processes:

  • Deflation
  • Abrasion

The erosion of by wind occurs due to the hitting of rock chips from one rock to the other.

Deflation is a process by which fast moving wind takes away with it broken bits of rocks and sediments which may be formed due to erosion of rocks by other means.

When these rock chips hit other larger rocks, they eventually erode the rocks, this is then called abrasion.

The fine particles carried by wind then form land masses such as beaches and deserts. Of course all the eroding causing these masses has already been done.

The velocity of wind is a very important factor for the erosion. Faster the wind, greater will be the erosion.

Collapse of rock due to gravity erosion
Collapse of rock due to gravity erosion
Glacial plucking on rock.
Glacial plucking on rock.

Erosion Due To Gravity

A heavy piece of rock broken due to erosion is pulled down by the gravitational pull, causing landslides. These land slides are then further responsible for more erosion of rocks.

Also, the gravitation pull makes the hills and slopes susceptible to landslides which are dangerous for other rocks.

Erosion Due To Glaciers

Glaciers are a very dangerous cause for erosion. They may directly scratch the rock or transport large pieces of rocks which may in return cause erosion.


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    • profile image

      srcordova 5 years ago

      This is a very useful site for me.Thanks so much!

    • Amhere profile image

      Amhere 6 years ago from Bilaspur, Chhatt?sgarh, India

      scientific...really worth reading for one with non-technical background