The cracking or breaking down of rocks and minerals on the earth’s surface is known as weathering. Ice, plants, animals, climate change and water all have a role in soil weathering. Let us know further about the factors affecting soil weathering, what are the factors that affect physical weathering, and what are the major factors that affect the rate of weathering.
1. What are Factors affecting Soil Weathering?
Soil is a thin mineral layer on the earth’s surface formed by the process of weathering rocks. Weathering process can be divided into two categories:
- Chemical Weathering, also called biological weathering has a direct effect on the crumbled rocks, minerals, and soils of atmospheric chemicals.
- Physical Weathering, also known as mechanical weathering, involves the dissolving of rocks and soils due to heat, water, pressure, and ice. Must read what does mulch do?
The following five are the factors affecting soil weathering.
- Parent Material,
- Relief or topography,
- Living Organisms,
- Climate, and
- Time. (See What is the Difference between Tropical and Polar Regions?)
2. What are the factors that affect Physical Weathering?
Physical weathering is also mechanical weathering which results in the dissolution of rocks and soils without changing chemicals. The process of physical weathering is an injury to the earth’s surface. It can happen due to a variety of reasons like temperature, pressure, frost, root action, and animal burrowing. Ice can also cause physical weathering. Factors that affect physical weathering are given below:
- The heated earth’s surface expands. If you observe at night, the rock surfaces are cool because of the low temperature. This continuous variation in temperature results in cracks in the rocks.
- Physical weathering happens when there is a freezing of water in the cracks of the rocks. The water that is present in the cracks freezes at night because of the low temperature.
- Rains are a part of physical weathering. When there is heavy rain, it falls on the rocks, leading to cracks – as the water droplets hit the surface hard and loosen the particles.
- Winds also cause physical weathering. It happens when there is a heavy wind, it carries sand and rock materials and they strike each other and loosen the rock.
- Sea waves hit rocks on the shore. This repeated action will result in the breaking of rocks into small particles and cause physical weathering. (See Where do Animals get Nitrogen from?)
3. What are the Major Factors that affect the Rate of Weathering?
So far you got the answer to what are the factors affecting soil weathering. Now let’s see what are the major factors that affect the rate of weathering:
- Rocks Mineral and chemical composition,
- Rock strength,
- Rock texture and structure,
- Climate and
- Ice or snow. (See What are the Uses of Soil?)
4. What causes Weathering?
Weathering is caused by mostly due to water, ice, and change in temperature. The water or ice enters the rocks and causes a crack when there is a temperature change. We might have seen some potholes that are due to the weathering caused by ice. Wind can be one of the factors affecting soil weathering as it blows off tiny sand particles against rocks and carries tiny pieces of rock to other places. Sometimes, this creates an amazing view like rock mushrooms. (See: What are the Characteristics of Sedimentary Rocks?)
5. Does Weathering occurs at Different Rates?
Yes, and weathering happens almost every day. There may be a split in roads or sidewalks which is caused by the expansion and contraction of ice or heating and cooling of the ground. The ocean waves hitting against the rocks on beaches create sands. Weathering is a slow process that takes over millions or thousands of years to complete. It occurs on all types of materials. It takes away hard rock such as granite, and soft rock like limestone. Also, check out what are physical resources?
6. What is a Soil Erosion?
When rocks crumble, the minerals and the rock pieces are carried away, the process is called erosion. All exposed surfaces are damaged by weathering. Lava-like rocks can soon become buried beneath other rocks. Soil erosion occurs when the fertile layer of the soil is lost making the soil less fertile. The upper layer of the soil is very light and can be carried away easily by wind and water. (See How do Animals cause Erosion?)
7. List Some Impacts of Soil Erosion?
- It destroys the fertile layer of the soil where most nutrients needed by plants and animals are stored.
- The removal of seeds or seedlings results in the soil becoming barren and makes it prone to erosion.
- It reduces the capacity of the soil to withhold water. (See How Does Cactus Grow in Desert?)
8. How can We conserve Soil?
Soil conservation is the prevention of soil. It means to save them from soil erosion. We can save soil by:
- Afforestation: Planting more trees to improve soil fertility. Particularly, planting more trees in hilly areas can be helpful.
- Crop Rotation: The crops of different kinds are grown on the same land. It helps to retain soil fertility.
- Terrace Farming: Cultivating crops by planting them on the terrace carved into slopes on the mountains or hills.
- Dams: Dams are used to prevent floods.
- Riverbanks: River banks are made to save farmlands from floods. Also, check out What is Sustainability and Why is it Important?
When the soil splits open due to rain or ice, soil weathering takes place, and soil fertility is destroyed. This may be similar to soil erosion, in which the fertile soil layer is taken away and rendered useless. Follow certain preventive actions to keep soil from deteriorating and help to restore its fertility.
So now you have knowledge about the factors affecting soil weathering and what are the factors that affect physical weathering. Also, you now know what are the major factors that affect the rate of weathering. Hope you will take care of our soil and do your best to conserve it for the future. (See What is Dense Forest Meaning and Definition?)