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Fundamentals of Physical Geography

2nd Edition
James Petersen
ISBN: 9781133606536

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BuyFindarrow_forward

Fundamentals of Physical Geography

2nd Edition
James Petersen
ISBN: 9781133606536
Textbook Problem

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FIGURE 12.28 Eventually this overhanging sandstone ledge will fail in a rockfall. As more individual rocks fall from the damper, shaded zone beneath the ledge, the size of the overhang will increase until its weight exceeds the strength of the bonds holding it in place.

What weathering processes might be acting on the sandstone beneath the overhang when it becomes wet?

To determine

The weathering processes that might be acting on the sandstone beneath the overhang when it becomes wet.

Explanation

Breakage of rocks occurs due to freeze-thaw weathering, following the freezing of water in fractures and small cracks in rocks. It is usually associated with the areas that are exposed to various diurnal freeze-thaw cycles. Freeze-thaw weathering is also known as frost weathering or ice wedging. The freezing of water results in its expansion in volume up to 9%, and it leads to the exertion of high pressure on the walls and bottom of the crack. As a result, it widens and leads to the eventual breaking of rock.

Similar to freeze-thaw weathering, the formation of salt crystals in the cracks, fractures, and other void spaces in rocks leads to the physical disintegration of rock. With the growth of salt crystals, the salts dissolved in the water accumulates in these spaces. The evaporation of water makes the salts to stay behind. The salt crystal growth is capable of wedging pieces of rock apart. This type of weathering is common in arid regions and in rocky coastal locations where the occurrence of salt is abundant. The growth of salt crystal causes the granular disintegration in coarse crystalline and to the removal of clastic particles from the sedimentary rocks, mainly sandstone.

In weathering that occurs due to hydration, the molecules of water are attached to the crystalline structure of a mineral without causing a permanent change in the composition of mineral. During the process of hydration and dehydration, the molecules of water are capable of joining and leaving the host mineral, respectively. Hydration leads to the expansion of minerals and dehydration leads to shrinkage. Due to hydration, weathering, clasts, mineral grains, and thin flakes are detached from rock masses...

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