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What is wind erosion?

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By definition, wind erosion involves the erosion, transportation and deposition of soil by the wind, according to Dictionary.com. Wind erosion is often worse during dust storms. Poor farming practices by humans combined with drought conditions such as occurred during the 1930s in the United States increase wind erosion.

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What is wind erosion?
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Several factors worked together to increase wind erosion during the American Dust Bowl. Small gasoline tractors increased the amount of land a farmer was able to work. Plowing served to displace native, deep-rooted grasses that held the soil in place during typical drought conditions and high winds. When the drought of the 1930s struck, the plains were ripe for wind erosion. These storms affected over 100 million acres in Oklahoma and Texas. By the end of the 1930s, wind erosion removed over 75 percent of the topsoil in some areas. Erosion decreased the value of farm land and the profits of the farmer. The problems led to population declines in many counties.

Weathering and erosion work together to transform all land forms to sea level planes. However, volcanoes and uplifting land movements work against these two processes. Without the intervention of man, water works its way into the cracks of rocks and freezes to break smaller particles from the larger mass. Plants and animals aid the weathering process. As particles become small enough, water or wind picks them up and transports them to other areas.


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  • 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:

    What are examples of wind erosion?

    A:

    According to the CK-12 Foundation, the most common examples of wind erosion are rock formation and desert varnish. Wind erosion can also affect much smaller rocks and structures, as evidenced by the desert pavement in the Mojave Desert.

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  • Q:

    What are wind and water erosion not likely to affect?

    A:

    Wind and water erosion are least likely to affect igneous sills and cooled lava flows. Limestone, basalt and quartzite are also unlikely to undergo erosion or weathering, as are sandstone and chert. Soil and soft rocks such as clays erode very quickly without protection.

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  • Q:

    What are types of wind erosion?

    A:

    The three main types of wind erosion are suspension, saltation and creep. Suspension is the blowing of tiny particles into the air where they may be carried for long distances, saltation is the repeated lifting and dropping of slightly larger particles, and creep is the movement of particles too large to lift along the ground. All types only occur with relatively dry, loose soils that wind can break apart.

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