What are the processes of chemical weathering?

The Important processes of chemical weathering are solution, carbonation, hydration, oxidation and reduction. These processes act on the rocks to decompose, dissolve or reduce them to a fine clastic state through chemical reactions by oxygen, surface and/or soil water and other acids.

  • Solution: On coming in contact with water many solids disintegrate and mix up as suspension in water. Soluble rock forming minerals like nitrates, sulphates, and potassium etc. are affected by this process. So, these minerals are easily leached out without leaving any residue in rainy climates and accumulate in dry regions.
  • Carbonation: Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and soil air is absorbed by water, to form carbonic acid that acts as a weak acid. Calcium carbonates and magnesium carbonates are dissolved in carbonic acid and are removed in a solution without leaving any residue resulting in cave formation.
  • Hydration: Minerals take up water and expand; this expansion causes an increase in the volume of the material itself or rock. Calcium sulphate takes in water and turns to gypsum, which is more unstable than calcium sulphate. This process is reversible and long, continued repetition of this process causes fatigue in the rocks and may lead to their disintegration.
  • Oxidation: In the process of oxidation rock breakdown occurs due to the disturbance caused by the addition of oxygen.
  • Reduction: When oxidised minerals are placed in an environment where oxygen is absent, reduction takes place. Such conditions exist usually below the water table, in areas of stagnant water and waterlogged ground. The red colour of iron upon reduction turns to greenish or bluish grey.

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