What Are Some Ways Rocks Can Weather?

Weathering is when rocks get broken down into pieces. Weathering can happen in many different ways, from salt to clay to ice! We are going to focus on the 5 main ways: water, ice, salt crystallization, clay formation, and plant roots. To learn more about weathering, check out our episode about weathering!

Weathering with water happens when water flows or hits rocks very hard. It can happen with rain, hail, sleet, and even rivers! The Grand Canyon was formed through water weathering. A related way of weathering to water weathering is ice weathering! Ice weathering happens when water seeps into cracks in rock and freezes. When water freezes, it expands or gets bigger. That causes the rock crack to expand, then eventually break.

Salt is a type of mineral and it crystalizes on rocks near the salty oceans. When the salt turns into large crystals on rocks, the rocks start to decompose as the salt crystals take over. The decomposition leads to rocks breaking into smaller and smaller pieces.

Clay formation is when the rock turns into clay. When the rock is exposed to high temperatures and lots of water, a chemical reaction inside of the rock occurs to turn the rock into soft clay. That also weathers the rock.

The last main way rocks are weathered is through plant roots. When plants grow on rocks, the rocks are forced apart because of the plant roots pushing in. This can happen on small scales, like moss, or on a big scale, like trees.

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