What type of plants release acids that cause chemical weathering?  

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lizedwards eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In geology, weathering is the breakdown of rocks on the Earth's surface. Unlike erosion, no rock material is removed in weathering.  Chemical weathering occurs when chemicals (primarily acids) break down the rocks. Chemical weathering requires water, which is most typically provided by rainfall or other precipitation.  

Living organisms can accelerate the weathering process. One example is lichen. A lichen is a composite organism, meaning that it is an organism made up of two or three member organisms. A lichen is typically made up of symbiotically related fungi and either algae or cyanobacteria. 
 
While lichens have some plant-like properties, they are not plants. Algae and cyanobacteria are both photosynthetic organisms, but when combined with fungi in a lichen, an entirely unique organism is formed. 
 
Lichens release oxalic acid, which dissolves minerals in their host rock. Lichen involvement in weathering is interesting because the weathering is both biological and chemical. The physical structures of a lichen are attached to the host rock, slightly weathering the rock's surface. So, some of the weathering caused by lichen is simply biological. However, lichens also secrete acids, which instigate chemical weathering by dissolving minerals in the host rock.
 

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