Processes That Shape a Planet

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The earth is changing continuously! Many processes are at work. Some changes occur over millions of years, such as the shaping of the Grand Canyon. Some changes are over in just a few minutes, such as an earthquake.

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Some important processes which shape our world are –

Weathering

Weathering is when rocks, minerals, wood, break down or dissolve due to many conditions – wind, water, ice, plants, organisms. The end result is mainly soil, which consists of bits of rock mixed with the remains of living things. Weathering can happen in many ways –

  1. Cracks in rocks get filled with water, which freezes and expands the cracks wider and wider over time until the rocks break
  2. Tree roots grow through cracks in rocks, breaking the rocks apart
  3. Rain and seawater dissolve minerals in rocks, causing them to crumble
  1. The wind carries dust, sand, volcanic ash, and other such loose material to very far off places. Sand dunes and odd rock formations are often the results of wind.
  2. Rainwater wears away soil and rock, carrying them to the sea. The Grand Canyon is a prime example of the colorado river’s eroding power.
  3. Glaciers move downhill at a slow pace due to gravity, scraping away soil and rock, leaving flatlands known as plains after the glacial ice has melted.

Erosion

Erosion is a combination of weathering and transportation of the weathered material from one place to another. Usually, erosion results in weathered material moving from a high place to a low place. For example, erosion wears away rocks on mountainsides and carries them down into the valleys. The main agents of erosion are wind, water, and glaciers.

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A Moving Earth

The Earth’s surface, known as the Crust, is made up of Tectonic Plates which are slowly but constantly moving. Sometimes these plates grind or clash into one another, breaking the crust and sending ripples and quivers all around. These are Earthquakeswhich shake up the earth’s surface from time to time. They can also cause landslides and mudslides.

Often, molten rock from below the earth’s surface rises up through the crust and forms new layers on top of the ground. This hot metal pours out on the open surface in the form of Lava to form a special kind of mountain known as a Volcano. Volcanos can also form new islands in the sea and even new layers of land and continents.

Check Point

  1. The breaking down of rocks, minerals, wood, due to wind, water, ice, is known as ______.
  2. The combination of weathering and transportation of weathered material is known as ______.
  3. Sand dunes and odd rock formations are often the results of erosion due to ______.
  4. The Earth’s crust is made up of ______ plates.
  5. A hot metal which pours out on the open surface can form a special kind of mountain known as a _______.

Answer Key

  1. Weathering
  2. Erosion
  3. Wind
  4. Tectonic
  5. Volcano

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