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Rock Weathering

  • By: Gregory A. Pope
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Weathering is the in situ alteration, by disintegration or decomposition, of rocks and minerals. By weathering, rocks and minerals reach a new equilibrium (chemical, pressure, and/or thermal) with the surface environment. Disintegration refers to the in situ mechanical production of smaller particles without chemical change, while decomposition refers to chemical alteration that results in both smaller particles as well as dissolved ions. Mechanical and chemical weathering are convenient subdivisions for discussion, though it is understood that the mechanical and chemical weathering processes are symbiotic and often inseparable.

Weathering is of vital importance to numerous Earth systems (and is therefore a subject for trans-disciplinary study). Weathering is one of several geomorphic processes, as weathering alone or in conjunction with other geomorphic processes is responsible for creating and ...

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