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For morphological image processing operations, see Erosion (morphology). For use of in dermatopathology, see Erosion (dermatopathology).
A natural arch produced by the erosion of differentially weathered rock in Jebel Kharaz, Jordan Erosion is the process by which soil and rock are removed from the Earth's surface by natural processes such as wind or water flow, and then transported and deposited in other locations. While erosion is a natural process, human activities have dramatically increased (by 10-40 times) the rate at which erosion is occurring globally. Excessive erosion causes problems such as desertification, decreases in agricultural productivity due to land degradation, sedimentation of waterways, and ecological collapse due to loss of the nutrient rich upper soil layers. Water and wind erosion are now the two primary causes of land degradation; combined, they are responsible for 84% of degraded acreage, making excessive erosion one of the most significant global environmental problems we face today. Industrial agriculture, deforestation, roads, anthropogenic climate change and urban sprawl are amongst the most significant human activities in regards to their effect on stimulating erosion. However, there are many available alternative land use practices that can curtail or limit erosion—such as terrace-building, no-till agriculture, and revegetation of denuded soils. Frost weathering
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Aly by mechanical frost weathering or thermal stress
Frost weathering is a collective term for several mechanical weathering processes induced by stresses created by the freezing of water into ice. The term serves as an umbrella term for a variety of processes such as frost shattering, frost wedging and cryofracturing. The process may act on a wide range of spatial and temporal scales, from minutes to years and from dislodging mineral grains to fracturing boulders. Frost weathering is mainly driven by the frequency and intensity of freeze-thaw cycles and the properties of the materials subject to weathering. It is most pronounced in high altitude and latitude areas and is especially associated with alpine, periglacial, subpolar maritime and polar climates but occurs wherever freeze-thaw cycles are present. * |
When water freezes to ice, its volume increases by nine percent. Under specific circumstances, this expansion is able to displace or fracture rock. At a temperature of -22 °C, ice growth is known to be able to generate pressures of up to 207MPa, more than enough to fracture any rock. For frost weathering to occur by volumetric expansion, the rock must have almost no air that can be compressed to compensate for the expansion of ice, which means it has to be water-saturated and frozen quickly from all sides so that the water does not migrate away and the pressure is exerted on the rock. These conditions are considered unusual, restricting it to a process of importance within a few centimeters of a rock's surface and on larger existing water-filled joints in a process called ice wedging. Not all volumetric expansion is caused by the pressure of the freezing water; it can be caused by stresses in water that remains unfrozen. When ice growth induces stresses in the pore water that breaks the rock, the result is called hydrofracture. Hydrofracturing is favoured by large interconnected pores or large hydraulic gradients in the rock. If there are small pores, a very quick freezing of water in parts of the rock may expel water, and if the water is expelled faster than it can migrate, pressure may rise, fracturing the rock. Since research in physical weathering begun around 1900, volumetric expansion was, until the 1980s, held to be the predominant process behind frost weathering. This view was challenged in 1985 and 1986 publications by Walder and...