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What is the difference between erosion and weathering?

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Quick Answer

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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There are two kinds of weathering, mechanical and chemical. Mechanical weathering breaks rocks into small pieces and fragments. Chemical weathering changes mineral structures inside of rocks. The pieces of rock fall off, but the rock itself stays put during both types of weathering processes. Erosion, which is also called mass wasting, happens when the weathered pieces of rock roll down-slope, along with another agent, such as in the case of a mud slide or moving ice floe.

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    What is biological weathering?

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    Biological weathering is the effect that living organisms, such as plants and animals, have on rocks and other inanimate objects. This phenomena happens due to the molecular breakdown of minerals in the rock. When biological weathering occurs, the living organism breaks down the rock or other nonliving object through either mechanical or chemical erosion or the use of both.

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  • Q:

    What is the process that breaks down rocks?

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    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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    What causes a cliff to collapse?

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    Cliffs collapse for a number of reasons, one of the most common being the effects of weathering, but there other factors as well, such as water crashing against the cliff face, what the cliff is made out of and the climate of the area. These factors can also work in conjunction to cause a cliff to collapse.

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  • Q:

    What does "physical weathering" mean?

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    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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