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Different Types of Weathering

All surfaces that are exposed to the weather are attacked by weathering. Metal rusts, roads crack, statues crumble, and rocks and buildings break up. Evidence of the effect of the weather can be seen everywhere. There are three types of weathering.

Physical Weathering This is where rocks are broken down into smaller and smaller particles. One way in, which this happens, is through freeze-thaw action. Water that has collected in cracks and hollows in the rock will freeze when temperatures fall below 0 Celsius. As it does so it expands, increasing the pressure on the rock. When it thaws the pressure is released. Repeated freezing and thawing causes the rock to weaken and crumble, so eventually the crack becomes wider. Whole blocks of rock can break off in this way. Freezethaw action is commonest in mountain areas where temperatures fluctuate around 0 Celsius for much of the year. Chemical Weathering As rainwater falls through the air it becomes a very weak type of acid. When this acidic water comes into contact with rock it starts to dissolve it. The rate at which is dissolves depends on the type of rock. Limestone, for example, dissolves very quickly. Many buildings are built partly of limestone and the results of chemical weathering can be clearly seen. Oxygen in the air can sometimes react with iron in the rocks so that they change to a deep red colour the rocks actually become rusty. Pollution in towns and cities increases chemical weathering. This can be seen on blackened buildings. Just like physical weathering, the presence of water is essential for chemical weathering to take place. The rate at which chemical weathering takes place depends on the temperature. The warmer it is, the more rapid the chemical decay. Biological Weathering Animals and plants also cause weathering. Seeds may fall into the cracks in the rocks. As water usually collects there, it forms ideal conditions for the seed to germinate and grow. As the plant develops, its roots may push the rocks apart. Animals burrowing into the soil can also cause damage. Parent rock refers to the original rock from which something else was formed. It is mainly used in the context of soil formation where the parent rock will have a large influence on the nature of the resulting soil. The term is also used in the context of metamorphic rocks where again the parent rock refers to the original rock before metamorphism takes place. Parent Rocks can be sedimentary, igneous or metamorphic.(ex.- shale becomes slate, granite becomes gneiss etc.) In these cases, parent rock may be referred to as the protolith. Parent rock is the main source of soil. This type of soil is also called residual soil. Different parent rocks have different chemical compositions. The Parent Rock is also known as bedrock and is made mostly of solid rocks, there is no weathering occurred there because the roots of the plant can not go that deep. It is the third layer and is underneath Topsoil and Subsoil. The parent rock has little organic matter. Types of Rocks Rocks are not all the same! The three main types, or classes, of rock are sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous and the differences among them have to do with how they are formed. Sedimentary Sedimentary rocks are formed from particles of sand, shells, pebbles, and other fragments of material. Together, all these particles are called sediment. Gradually, the sediment accumulates in layers and over a long period of time hardens into rock. Generally, sedimentary rock is fairly soft and may break apart or crumble easily. You can often see sand, pebbles, or stones in the rock, and it is usually the only type that contains fossils. Examples of this rock type include conglomerate and limestone.

Metamorphic Metamorphic rocks are formed under the surface of the earth from the metamorphosis (change) that occurs due to intense heat and pressure (squeezing). The rocks that result from these processes often have ribbonlike layers and may have shiny crystals, formed by minerals growing slowly over time, on their surface. Examples of this rock type include gneiss and marble. Igneous Igneous rocks are formed when magma (molten rock deep within the earth) cools and hardens. Sometimes the magma cools inside the earth, and other times it erupts onto the surface from volcanoes (in this case, it is called lava). When lava cools very quickly, no crystals form and the rock looks shiny and glasslike. Sometimes gas bubbles are trapped in the rock during the cooling process, leaving tiny holes and spaces in the rock. Examples of this rock type include basalt and obsidian. Rocks And Minerals Let's start off with an explanation that rocks and minerals are different things. Rocks are groups of different minerals pushed together and combined. They don't have easy chemical formulas to describe their makeup. A ruby is considered a mineral. It's a nice pretty crystal with the same compounds throughout the object. But the rock that surrounds that ruby has many many different compounds (and even a few pieces of ruby mixed in). There's an easier example that many people can relate to. Think about quartz. On its own (as a mineral) it's a nice pretty crystal. But a piece of granite often has loads of quartz. It's ground up and crushed, but its still bits of quartz. Granite is a rock and quartz is a mineral. Igneous Rocks Igneous rocks are the ones that were superheated and originally liquid. They come from the center of the Earth! Not really the center, but they often start their lives below the crust and then get pumped out. There are two basic types of igneous rocks. There are the rocks that make it to the surface (extrusive) and the ones that are stuck in the crust just below the surface (intrusive). These igneous types have all hardened after being molten rock. If you walk around a volcano, you will find those extrusive types. The intrusive types are usually found in areas called plutons and dikes, big old pools of molten rock that were just beneath the surface. Some examples of igneous rock are granite, all volcanic rock, basalt, and obsidian. Metamorphic Rocks This rock type is created by heat and/or pressure. Even though heat is involved, they didn't start off as molten rock. But. You often find metamorphic rock near volcanoes and sources of super hot rock. The heat from the magma changes all of the rock around it. Try another explanation. Look at the name 'metamorphic.' It looks like the word used to describe insects that go through a metamorphosis. It's the same concept. Some force (heat/pressure) has changed these rocks from one type into a new type. The result is a metamorphic rock. Some examples are marble, jade, slate, and gneiss. Because pressure and heat are involved, these rock types are usually found deep beneath the surface. They are also found near fault lines where plates push against each other and create enormous pressures. Over time, because of the movement of the crust, these metamorphic rocks are pushed to the surface where you can find them every day. Sedimentary Rocks The last of the big three rock types is probably the rarest... unless you live near the coast. Sedimentary rock types are created when sediment compresses. It's pretty simple. Here's the setup... A river flows through a canyon and picks up a bunch of silt. That sediment and silt runs downstream and deposits where the river ends. It could be in a flood plain or a valley, but we're using a coastline as an example. When that material gets to the beach, it sits there. Now if you watch this happen over millions of years, more and more sediment builds up and compacts. That compacted sediment eventually becomes a type of rock. Examples of sedimentary rock include sandstone, amber, anthracite, and limestone.