Rocks uncovered on the surface ar of the earth undergo a process over time speak to weathering. Weathering is the breaking down of rock material.

What is a Rock?

A rock is a solid aggregate of mineral materials. Rocks are categorized right into three main groups based on chemical composition and how they room formed: igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks, and sedimentary rocks.

You are watching: What are some similarities and differences between physical and chemical weathering

Some examples of usual rocks are granite, basalt, limestone, and also sandstone.


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An variety of rocks v vegetation interspersed. Photo: john J. Mosesso, USGS. Public domain.

What are the 2 Main species of absent Weathering?

There space two main varieties of weathering: physical and chemical.


Physical, or mechanical, weathering happens when rock is damaged through the force of an additional substance top top the rock such as ice, to run water, wind, quick heating/cooling, or plant growth.

Chemical weathering occurs once reactions between rock and another substance dissolve the rock, causing parts of it to autumn away.

Here are some examples of physical and also chemical weathering that rocks.

Physical Weather Examples

Physical weathering occurs as soon as rock is damaged down v mechanical processes such as wind, water, gravity, freeze-thaw cycles, or the expansion of roots right into rock.

Water Weathering

Water motion is a significant force in physical weathering. The persistent crash of waves versus rocks reasons physical weathering.


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Physical weathering by tide at Arcadia nationwide Park in Maine. Photo: john J. Mosesso, USGS. Windy domain.

Freeze-thaw Weathering

When water seeps right into rocks and also freezes, it expands and also causes the absent to crack. Once water transforms native a fluid state come a frozen state, that expands. Liquid water seeps into existing crack in the rock, freezes and also then increases those cracks.

This form of physical weathering is referred to as freeze-thaw.


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Horsetail Falls, Columbia flow Gorge. Photo: USDA, windy domain

Wind Weathering

These mushroom-shaped absent pinnacles in Bryce Canyon, known as hoodoos, are developed by wind weathering the sandstone.


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Bryce Canyon is a distinctive sandstone formation in southerly Utah. It is house to a large number the hoodoos, which are oddly shame pillars of rock that created due to various erosion rates for the dolomite that caps them and the sandstone that creates their base. Photo: Alex Demas, USGS. Public domain.

Thermal Stress

As rocks heat up (and expand) and then cool (and contract) they can weaken over time and break up right into smaller pieces. This temperature associated weathering is recognized as thermal stress.

For example, warm days can create rockfalls top top Yosemite’s granite cliffs.


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A large pinnacle might be seen adjacent to Yosemite Falls. Pinnacles kind as the granite is weathered away via ice, water, or tree growth. Photo: Alex Demas, USGS. Public domain.

Root Weathering

Roots native plants flourish into rocks, cracked the rocks and also causing weathering. Roots commonly will broaden into currently cracks and cause them come widen.


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Precambrian metamorphic rock wall in Lamar Canyon. Yellowstone national Park, Photo: Jim Peaco, NPS, publicly domain

Chemical Weathering Examples

Chemical weathering deserve to been watched in this photograph of Blue basin located in the man Day nationwide Monument in Oregon.

The green color of the claystone is from by chemistry weathering of a mineral referred to as celadonite.


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Blue Basin, Oregon. Photo: Bonnie Moreland, public domain

Chemical and also Physical Weathering

Honeycomb weathering is a type of weathering that is believed to have actually both physical and chemical weathering components.

Salt weathering is where widening salt crystals break fragments of absent that create an significantly larger hole over time. The pattern that outcomes is well-known as honeycomb weathering.

This absent in Puget Sound, Washington is an instance of honeycomb weathering that sandstone.


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Honeycomb weathering the sandstone located on the shores of Puget Sound. Photo: Collin blacksmith , U.S. Geological Survey. Publicly domain.

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The honeycomb weathering watched in this picture from Utah.


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Honeycombs, Utah. Photo: Utah geological Survey, publicly Domain

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