The rocks, minerals and soils that we find on earth can generally change their structure through the action or influence of certain environmental forces . The biological activity , the climate end and erosion agents such as water, wind and ice are examples of environmental forces influencing the decomposition continuous in wear and in the detachment of rocks and soils. This set of situations is what is called weathering. So we can say that weathering is the process in which rocks or soils dissolve or wear out into smaller and smaller pieces, a situation that is caused by different particular environmental factors, such as those mentioned above. In geological terms , it is defined as the disintegration of rocks influenced by animal and plant life, water and atmospheric forces in general.


What is weathering?

Weathering is the decomposition of rocks found on the Earth’s surface, through the action of rainwater , wind , snow, and extreme changes in temperature and biological activity.

  • What is weathering?
  • Process
  • Types
  • How it differs from erosion
  • Causes
  • Consequences of weathering

What is weathering?

Weathering consists of the process of disintegration and decomposition of the rocks that exist on the earth’s surface as a consequence of different atmospheric and biological agents . It also involves a series of different chemical reactions.



Weathering processes are those that contribute to generating changes in the materials that make up a material . When materials on the earth’s surface, specifically rocks in this case, come into contact with the atmosphere , the hydrosphere and the biosphere, there is a process of decomposition of both them and the minerals that make them up, generating a series of irreversible changes. and producing changes in the volume , density and size of the particles. These processes can be physical-mechanical, chemical or biological.


Weathering can be in three different ways: physical, chemical and biological.

  • Physical : it consists of the degradation that occurs in rocks in smaller fragments , but this change does not affect their nature. They usually occur as a result of sudden changes in temperature . When temperatures change constantly between day and night, this type of weathering also usually occurs. There are several types of physical weathering, for example:  decompression, thermoclasty, gelifraction, haloclasty .
  • Chemistry : in this case there are alterations in the chemical composition of the rocks, transforming them into completely different substances . The main responsible for this type of weathering is water . There are changes in the color of the stones due to the different compositions . Chemical weathering comprises several phases that are:  oxidation , dissolution , carbonation, hydration and hydrolysis .
  • Biological : it is produced merely by the action that human beings exert on the rocks of the earth. Some animals and living beings also play an important role, so, for example, animals that dig in the soil can crumble rocks to form caves , and the roots of plants and trees as they grow, fracture the rocks, changing their shape. .

How it differs from erosion

The difference between erosion and weathering is that erosion is wear that occurs on the surface of the earth through the action of different external phenomena , erosion has different origins that act at the same time to achieve the process, and They often come from the hand of human activity such as deforestation, poor use of agriculture, droughts, bad public works and climate change; and weathering is the decomposition and disintegration of rocks through atmospheric and biological phenomena That includes the possibility of chemical alterations of the rocks and the minerals that form them, seeking a balance.


There are several causes that lead to weathering, some of them are:

  • External geodynamics : this action occurs on the surface of the earth when the atmosphere , hydrosphere and biosphere produce alterations in the rocks, transforming them , changing landscapes and creating different geomorphological structures.
  • External geological processes : they are a set of changes and transformations that rocks have on the earth’s surface, such as erosion , transport and sedimentation .
  • External biological agents : they are linked to the atmosphere , for example, water, rain , temperature. By having great changes in these components, enormous transformations are produced in the chemistry of the rocks.

Consequences of weathering

The main consequences of weathering are soil erosion that cause alterations in human activities and ecosystems, alterations in the chemical composition of rocks, rock fissures , changes in the landscapes of the earth’s crust .

Leave a Comment