Weathering vs. Erosion http://www.diffen.com/difference/Erosion_vs_Weathering As tectonic plates began to move, that continent was separated into many different land masses. These land masses have shifted and changed into the seven continents that make up the Earth today. PLATE TECTONICS Tectonic plate movement has many other effects on the Earth. As the plates collide, several different geologic events might take place. Earthquakes are caused by tectonic plate movement. Collision between oceanic and continental crusts is one cause of earthquakes, for example. As one plate is pushed under another, jerky movements produce seismic waves. Plates moving away from each other can also cause earthquakes. Or if two plates are moving alongside one another in opposite directions, tension builds up and eventually releases in the form of an earthquake. Collisions between two plates might also create volcanoes. As one plate is pushed under another, hot magma is released to the surface. Mountains are the result when two continental plates push against one another. Because they are made of similar low-density rock, neither is able to push the other down. The result is an upward shift of rock, forming mountains. EROSION AND WEATHERING The surface of the Earth can be changed through constructive processes, where surface features are being created, or destructive processes, where features are being broken down. As sediment is eroded and deposited it changes the Earth. For example, sediment is washed away from river banks, carried downstream, and deposited at the river mouth, creating a delta. Weathering works in a similar way: Ice, wind, and water break down rock, changing its characteristics. Erupting volcanoes spew hot lava onto the surface of the Earth. New rock and land masses are formed as the lava cools. Hot lava also destroys existing rock with its extremely high temperatures. Earthquakes and faults also change the outermost part of Earth. As friction builds up and gives way along a fault, earthquakes occur. This radiation of seismic waves shakes and destroys both natural and man-made landforms. Gravity also plays a part in shaping the pedosphere. The continuous downward pull causes rocks to tumble off mountains and geologic formations to crumble. In addition to geologic processes, living organisms can also alter the surface of Earth. Animals such as beavers, termites, and woodpeckers can drastically change the terrain of an area. HUMAN IMPACTS So what, if anything, can humans do to control the processes that shape the Earth? Over the years people have devised ways to interfere with and reverse constructive and destructive occurrences, but not stop them. Dams, levees, and storm drains all successfully control flooding by controlling the flow of water. Years of beach erosion can be reversed through beach reclamation methods. Seismological studies teach scientists about the mechanics of an earthquake, so that we can be better prepared when one occurs. Though humans have learned to intervene with these processes, they have not learned how to completely control them.