ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Difference Between Weathering and Erosion

Updated on May 17, 2019
Eoin Cunningham profile image

Eoin is an Undergraduate student studying Geography in the National University of Ireland Galway.

Source

The Main Difference Between Weathering and Erosion

Weathering is the breaking down of rocks by physical or chemical means while erosion is the carrying away of sediment by natural processes.

Key Differences

  1. Weathering does not transport broken down rock particles whereas; erosion does transport broken down rock particles.
  2. Weathering occurs due to atmospheric pressure provided by elements such as heat and air pressure; erosion occurs as a combined result of weathering and natural processes such as wind, water and ice.
  3. Weathering does not rely on erosion, but erosion does rely on weathering. Due to the fact erosion cannot occur unless rock particles have been broken down by the processes of weathering. Only when the rock particles have been broken down or weathered, can erosion take place.

Types of Erosion

The four main types of erosion are hydraulic action, abrasion, attrition and solution.

  1. Hydraulic Action: see physical weathering.
  2. Abrasion: occurs when a material is being dragged along a surface for a long time. An example of abrasion would be large rock boulders dragged along the bed of a river eventually breaking down over time.
  3. Attrition: happens when materials are continually making contact with either each other, a surface or both during transportation. This is common during river transportation of sediment.
  4. Solution: minerals are broken down in the water then transported away as solution.




Types of Weathering

There are two main types of weathering, physical and chemical.

Physical Weathering

Physical weathering, otherwise known as mechanical weathering, is the breaking down of rocks by mechanical means. Physical weathering does not alter the chemical composition of rocks. There are many different types of physical weathering. Here is a list of the most common varieties:

Onion Weathering: this type of weathering occurs commonly in desert climates. The extreme heat from the sun causes the rock to expand during the day and at night, the temperatures lower, causing the rock to contract. Over time this results in pieces of rock peeling away from the surface of the rock similar to the removal of the outer cells of an onion.

Biological Weathering: animal, plant and microbe activity can over time lead to the break down of a rock’s surface. An example of this would be the pressure exerted on a rock by the growth of a large plant root.

Freeze-Thaw Action: typically, this form of weathering occurs at altitude. Rainwater falls and collects in the cracks or on the surface of rocks. Come nightfall the water freezes and expands by roughly 10%, which places pressure on the surface of the rock, weakening it. As day breaks the temperatures rise thawing the ice, and the process repeats itself until eventually, the rock shatters. Broken down pieces of rock located at the foot of a mountain are known as scree and form as a result of freeze-thaw action.

Hydraulic Action: the force of moving water contacts the surface of a rock, it causes it to breakdown. Typically, the rock has already been weakened, and the water is exploiting the cracks in the rock which have been left behind by this process previously. Pockets of air present in the rock can further weaken the rock. This is because as the water subsides, it sometimes generates a large amount of pressure on the surface of the rock, which weakens the rock when released.

Salt Crystal Growth: water moves into cracks or openings in the rock by capillary action where it then begins to evaporate and form large salt crystals which over time put pressure on the rock and cause it to breakdown. This form of weathering is typical in arid climates.

Thermal Weathering: when a rock is exposed to an excessive amount of heat, it causes the minerals inside the rock to expand placing pressure on the rock. When the temperature cools from the rock, it shatters.

Chemical Weathering

Chemical weathering involves changing the chemical composition of a rock which causes it to break down over a prolonged period. The following are varieties of chemical weathering:

Oxidation: occurs when a substance reacts with oxygen. Rocks contain iron which reacts with oxygen to create iron oxide subsequently weakens the rock. An interesting fact to about oxidation is it is responsible for the formation of rust. Uluru, better known as Ayer’s Rock, is an example of the impact oxidation has on rock formation.

Hydrolysis: is the chemical breakdown of rocks which occurs when rocks come into contact with water.

Biological: do not let this variety of weathering confuse just because it is also a physical form of weathering. Plant, animals and microbes can release acidic substances which react with the chemical composition of a rock, causing it to breakdown; therefore, it is a form of chemical weathering. Plants, animals and microbes also breakdown rocks themselves without the aid of any acidic fluids, making them a type of physical weathering simultaneously.

Carbonation: this process of weathering is crucial to cave formation. Water takes in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere creating a weak carbonic acid. This carbonic acid reacts with minerals inside rocks, causing them to breakdown.

Conclusion

Weathering and erosion are two very different processes, but both play a role in the breaking down and transportation of rocks. The critical difference is weathering does not transport the rocks whereas erosion does transport the stones. Once weathering has occurred, the rock will not break down further. During erosion, the rock will be broken down into smaller particles.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Frankie Vanderhoff profile image

      Frankie Vanderhoff 

      3 weeks ago from Lower Saxony, Germany

      Incredible! So informative and well-written article. I had read it with pleasure.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)