[GEOCHEMISTRY OF NATURAL WATERS]
In Rocky Mountains
December 6th, 2012
Our planet continues to be influenced by geological processes which help make the way look it is today, some of these account for weathering. Weathering is essentially the breakdown of rocks, soils and minerals in water and land through interaction with the Earth’s atmosphere. Weathering occurs by means of two processes, physical and chemical. Chemical weathering involves atmospheric chemicals in breakdown of rocks and solids. Physical weathering occurs more frequently than chemical and it also involves breakdown of rocks and solids but this is more direct and less chemicals involved. To understand how weathering really works we have to take an example of Rocky Mountain. Weathering has had a major impact on this region for the past years. Rocky Mountains are a major mountain region which stretches from British Columbia, Canada to South-western United States. This paper investigates the different types of weathering reaction in the rocky mountain regions, how it affects the region, what features are formed as a result of weathering reactions. The dissolved minerals present in some of the water bodies around the Rocky Mountains. Anthropogenic effect due to weathering rates and many more interesting topics are discussed in detail. Introduction
Through the course of geological history, the Earth has witnessed many major events which have transformed it into the present Earth we see today. At the start of the geological time scale earth was known to be molten because of frequently occurring volcanic activities and collisions within the Earth’s crust. Surfaces continued to reshape themselves over periods of hundreds to millions of years through geological processes some of which are weathering, and this helped shape up continents which would at times break apart and form together. Weathering is essentially the breakdown of rocks, soils and minerals in water and land through interaction with the Earth’s atmosphere. Weathering occurs by means of two processes, physical and chemical. Physical weathering occurs more frequently than chemical weathering. Physical weathering involves the breakdown of rocks and soils through direct interaction with the atmosphere, such as ice, pressure, water and heat. Chemical weathering is the effect caused by atmospheric chemicals involved in the breakdown of rocks and other solids. In weathering, the process occurs inside; this means that there is no movement which is involved during this process. (Paradise, 2002). In an attempt to understand the concepts of weathering we have to first consider a living geological module which has been affected by weathering. A common example of this is Rocky Mountains, it a major mountain range in western North America which stretches to about 3000 miles from British Columbia, Canada to south-western United States (Richards 2007). In this paper we will try to better understand the different weathering reaction from a chemical and geological standpoint.
First let’s take a look at the types of weathering and their subtypes. Physical Weathering
Physical weathering or mechanical weathering is a process in which the rocks are reduced in size due to disintegration. The main process in physical weathering is abrasion. Abrasion means that the large rocks are reduced in size due to various processes such as frost action, pressure, and also due to temperature changes (Calvaruso, 2002). Types of Physical Weathering Processes
* Thermal stress: - In thermal stress it is a process in which the expansion and contraction causes the rocks which are in the earth’s crust to expand and contract and thus disintegrate. The repetitive process of expansion and contraction will make the rock to develop cracks which will then lead to the cracks developing and then, the rock will break to smaller pieces (Uroz, 2002). * Frost...
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