Student Question

What are 12 agents of weathering?

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Weathering is the process of breakdown of rocks and soil by a number of agents. Unlike erosion, weathering does not involve the motion of rocks. Various weathering agents are:

  • Water: causes hydration of rocks and minerals.
  • Gravity: an agent of physical weathering and causes abrasion.
  • ice: in cold regions, ice formation and subsequent thawing, changes the gap size between rock fragments, loosens them and causes weathering.
  • acids: acid attack is a common cause of weathering. carbonic acid and sulfuric acid are commonly implicated as agents of chemical weathering.
  • salts: crystal formation of salts in the gaps and fissures also causes weathering of rocks.
  • winds: can shape and move loose fragments, thus progressively weathering the rocks.
  • plants: grow into crack and fissures. The expanding roots, uptake of chemicals and release of chemicals into rocks causes weathering.
  • animals: burrow animals break down rocks, other animals use other means to cause weathering.
  • temperature changes: heating and cooling enhances weathering.
  • pressure changes
  • gases: such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, sulfur oxide, etc. causes acidification or oxidation of rocks.
  • microorganisms: break down, acidify and chemically attack soil and rocks and causes weathering.

Hope this helps. 

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