Q:

What is the process that breaks down rocks?

A:

Quick Answer

The process in nature that breaks down rocks is called physical weathering. Physical forces such as abrasion, frost action, salt crystal growth, thawing, freezing and temperature fluctuation weaken rocks and cause them to crack and disintegrate over time. Fluctuations in temperature over time can cause rocks to break as a result of constant stress from contraction and expansion.

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Full Answer

The surface of a rock can break down from constant friction caused by ice, water and wind. Constant frost exposure causes rocks to break down because the melting ice becomes trapped inside cracks in the rock and then expands when freezing, resulting in significant outward pressure. Rocks can also fall apart because of salt crystal growth, which is a process that takes place when a rock is exposed to groundwater that seeps into its empty spaces and pores.

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Related Questions

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    How does freeze-thaw weathering break up rocks?

    A:

    Freeze-thaw weathering is a form of physical or mechanical weathering that induces stress on rocks when water repeatedly seeps into cracks, freezes and expands, eventually causing the rock to break apart. This type of weathering is largely driven by the intensity and frequency of freeze-thaw cycles and the structural properties of the rocks subject to weathering.

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    How does ice wedging cause rocks to weather?

    A:

    According to CK-12, ice wedging causes rocks to weather because water expands as it changes from a liquid form to a solid form. Over time, the changes in form wedge the rock apart. For this reason, ice wedging is very effective at weathering rock.

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    What does "physical weathering" mean?

    A:

    Physical weathering, also called mechanical weathering, refers to the process of breaking rocks apart while retaining their chemical composition, according to the American Geosciences Institute. It means that rocks slowly wear away due to physical changes, such as temperature changes, freezing and thawing, wind, rain and waves, explains the BBC.

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    What are types of weathering?

    A:

    Weathering refers to the process of wearing away, dissolving or breaking down rocks that are found near or at the surface of the Earth. National Geographic notes three types of weathering processes: mechanical, chemical and biological or organic.

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