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The Ever-Changing Surface of the Earth - Part 2: Weathering
By Laura G. Smith
1 From mountaintops to deserts to seashores, rocks are being tossed and turned, heated and cooled, cracked and crumbled by a process called weathering.
2 Weathering involves the physical disintegration and chemical decomposition of rocks, minerals, and immature soils at or near the Earth's surface. Weathering also initiates the erosion of rock, causing changes in the surface layers of the Earth.
3 In "The Ever-Changing Surface of the Earth - Part 1," you learned that erosion occurs when running water, sea waves, wind, and glaciers pick up rock and soil materials and carry them to other locations. These rocky materials are transported after the process of weathering has broken bedrock down into smaller, moveable pieces. The primary agents of weathering are water, ice, and gases in the atmosphere. Although weathering and erosion often occur at the same time, they are not the same process. Weathering is considered to be only a component (or part) of erosion, because it does not involve transportation of any material.
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