Weathering vs. Erosion

Weathering vs. Erosion
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.
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.
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.
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.