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Erosion
Earth Science
The Movement of Soil, Part 1



The Movement of Soil, Part 1
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 10
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.47

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    soil-covering, soil-exposing, subsoil, step-like, groundcover, strip-cropping, finer, overgrazing, humus, prevalent, geologists, runoff, contour, topsoil, uproot, urban
     content words:    Midwestern United States


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The Movement of Soil, Part 1
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     A rock in one place today may be in another place tomorrow. Thanks to erosion, rock particles produced from weathered rock are moved away from their birth location. Erosion agents like wind, gravity, glaciers, and water transport weathered rock particles to areas from their parent rock. Water, one of the most important erosion agents, moves weathered rock in many different ways. Ocean waves and currents, streams and runoff, and groundwater are nature's transportation for weathered rocks.
 
2     During the last century, geologists have observed an increase in soil erosion around the world. It is one of the largest environmental problems that the world will encounter during this current century. Weathered rock is eventually changed into finer particles. These particles are light enough to mix with water, air, and humus. Once this occurs, soil is formed. If we let nature do its job, then the erosion of the soil is a very slow process. Typically the erosion rate of soil is almost equal to the formation rate of soil. However, once humans and farming practices are involved, the natural erosion rate of soil may be altered.
 
3     Climate and land use can alter the natural balance that exists for soil erosion and formation. As farming and ranching practices have improved over the years, soil erosion has also increased. These practices uproot plants whose roots would normally anchor the soil. Without the anchoring action of plants, soil would be eroded rapidly by wind and water. Animals also increase erosion rates through their overgrazing of grass. They remove important ground cover that helps to slow water runoff. Once the groundcover disappears, the soil becomes more vulnerable to the agents of erosion. So, what is the long-term effect of soil erosion? The long-term effect is a decrease in available fertile land. The first layer to be eroded is the topsoil. Once the topsoil is eroded, the fertility of the soil decreases. As a result, widespread famine may occur.

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