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What is erosion?

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Quick Answer

Erosion is a natural process in which rocks or soil are moved from one location to another by wind or water. Material may move through erosion for distances ranging from a few feet to thousands of miles. Erosion often is most noticeable along shorelines, but it occurs in a variety of areas throughout the world.

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What is erosion?
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Full Answer

Erosion occurs naturally, but human activity has increased the incidence of erosion by 10 to 40 times globally as of 2014. Excessive erosion affects agriculture and the flow of bodies of water. It affects various ecosystems and can lead to the endangerment or extinction of species that lose habitat or food sources.

The condition of soil plays a role in the susceptibility of an area to erosion. When water can easily soak through soil, it is less likely to run off and take soil with it. The amount and condition of plants on the surface of soil also affect how easily erosion occurs. Grasses and other plants help slow water runoff and make it easier for water to permeate the soil. Climate also plays a role in erosion. Areas with a great deal of rain can experience significant runoff and resulting erosion. Very dry areas may have erosion from dry soils blowing away.

Various factors intensify and speed up erosion. Intensive farming, climate change, cutting down trees and construction of roads and buildings all affect erosion.

Learn more about Erosion & Weathering

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    What is soil erosion?

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    Soil erosion is a natural or artificial process where the top layers of soil are blown or washed away from wind or water. Most soil erosion is caused by natural sources like wind and rain.

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  • Q:

    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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    How does gravity cause erosion?

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    Gravity causes erosion by pulling dirt, rocks and soil downward. For example, as water mixes with dirt to form soft mud, the mud cannot support itself against the force of gravity.

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  • Q:

    What are the agents of erosion?

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    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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