1. Describe how mechanical weathering breaks rocks down.
2. Describe how chemical weathering breaks rocks down.
3. Name three factors that affect weathering rates.
Weathering is the name given to the process of breaking-down rocks at Earth's surface. This is accomplished due to the exposure to oxygen through the process of oxidation and to the exposure to water in its various forms (liquid, solid, & gas). Weathering can be further broken down into 2 different categories; chemical & mechanical.
Mechanical weathering is the process of erosion where larger rocks are broken into smaller rocks. Water is the primary agent for mechanical weathering.
All chemical weathering takes place in the presence of water (sometimes known as the universal solvent). It is the chemical breakdown of the bonds that hold the rock together (also known as hydrolysis). Other types of chemical weathering involves both oxygen and acids.
Rates of Weathering:
Weathering is generally a very slow process. It is not static, though, as its rate is affected by different factors. The two biggest contributors to weathering are surface area and the climate.
Last modified: November 14, 2003