What are the types of physical weathering?

Types of physical weathering: 

  • Unloading and Expansion: Removal of overlying rock load because of continued erosion causes vertical pressure release with the result that the upper layers of the rock expand producing disintegration of rock masses. Fractures will develop roughly parallel to the ground surface. In areas of curved ground surface, arched fractures tend to produce massive sheets or exfoliation slabs of rock.
  • Temperature Changes and Expansion: With rise in temperature, every mineral expands and pushes against its neighbour and as temperature falls, a corresponding contraction takes place. Because of diurnal changes in the temperatures, this internal movement among the mineral grains of the superficial layers of rocks takes place regularly. This process is most effective in dry climates and high elevations where diurnal temperature changes are drastic. The surface layers of the rocks tend to expand more than the rock at depth and this leads to the formation of stress within the rock resulting in heaving and fracturing parallel to the surface. Due to differential heating and resulting expansion and contraction of surface layers and their subsequent exfoliation from the surface results in smooth rounded surfaces in rocks.
  • Freezing, Thawing and Frost Wedging: Frost weathering occurs due to growth of ice within pores and cracks of rocks during repeated cycles of freezing and melting. Rapid freezing of water causes its sudden expansion and high pressure. The resulting expansion affects joints, cracks and small inter granular fractures to become wider and wider till the rock breaks apart.
  • Salt Weathering: Salts in rocks expand due to thermal action, hydration and crystallisation. Salt crystals in near-surface pores cause splitting of individual grains within rocks, which eventually fall off. This process of falling off of individual grains may result in granular disintegration or granular foliation.

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