Q:

What are the agents of erosion?

A:

Quick Answer

The agents of erosion are waves, water, wind and ice. The process of weathering dissolves rock or breaks it down into tiny fragments, making it weak and susceptible to erosion. The agents of erosion carry fragmented rocks away, causing the earth to be worn away.

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Full Answer

All forms of water cause erosion. In dry environments, raindrops cause splash erosion, which moves small particles of soil. The water that collects on the Earth’s surface causes sheet erosion when it starts to move towards streams. Water in streams is a powerful agent of erosion because it moves fast and can pick up and move large soil particles and objects. Streams that move slowly move fine sand. Erosion by water wears away river banks and alters the shape of coastlines. Erosion by wind occurs often in dry areas, such as deserts, where it forms sand dunes.

Strong wind erodes cliffs and rocks, making them smooth. Wind also moves volcanic ash and dust. Ice often causes erosion on mountain tops and frigid areas. As glaciers move downhill, they pick up and move rocks and sand, which scrape the ground, causing erosion. Waves in large bodies of water, such as oceans, are responsible for coastal erosion.

Human activities, such as cutting down trees, facilitate erosion. Global warming is linked to severe and frequent storms and speeds up erosion.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How is wind erosion different from water erosion?

    A:

    Wind erosion happens when pieces of the Earth are worn away by strong winds over time, and water erosion happens when moving water such as ocean waves wear away rock instead of seeping into the ground. Water is a more powerful erosion force than wind.

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  • Q:

    How is a plant or animal an agent of mechanical weathering?

    A:

    Plants and animals become agents of mechanical weathering when their growth, activities or movements expose rocks to the weathering actions of wind, rain and ice. The roots of plants, particularly large trees, can shift the soil and lift or crack rocks that block their paths. Animals often dig tunnels that cause the same effects, but their burrowing, foraging and den-making activities can also cause rocks to become exposed.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference between erosion and weathering?

    A:

    The difference between erosion and weathering is that erosion involves movement while weathering takes place without movement. Both processes are involved in the decomposition of rocks.

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  • Q:

    What is chemical erosion?

    A:

    Chemical erosion occurs when water transports dissolved minerals away from their source rocks. It follows chemical weathering, which results from the chemical alteration of rock by water. Chemical erosion is most common with limestone; slightly acidic rainwater dissolves calcium carbonate in the rock and redeposits it, sometimes far away, as in stalagmites and stalactites. Through oxidation, chemical erosion also occurs to some degree with unstable igneous minerals and iron-rich rocks.

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