A natural arch produced by erosion of differentially weathered rock in Jebel Kharaz (Jordan)
A rock in Abisko, Sweden fractured along existing joints possibly by frost weathering or thermal stress
Exfoliated granite sheets in Texas, possibly caused by pressure release
Tafoni at Salt Point State Park, Sonoma County, California
Comparison of unweathered (left) and weathered (right) limestone
Limestone core samples at different stages of chemical weathering (due to tropical rain and underground water), from very high at shallow depths (bottom) to very low at greater depths (top). Slightly weathered limestone shows brownish stains, while highly weathered limestone loses much of its carbonate mineral content, leaving behind clay. Underground limestone from the carbonate West Congolian deposit in Kimpese, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Hydrolysis of a silica mineral
Olivine weathering to iddingsite within a mantle xenolith
A pyrite cube has dissolved away from host rock, leaving gold particles behind.
Oxidized pyrite cubes
A freshly broken rock shows differential chemical weathering (probably mostly oxidation) progressing inward. This piece of sandstone was found in glacial drift near Angelica, New York.
Biological weathering of basalt by lichen, La Palma
Concrete damaged by acid rain
Salt weathering of building stone on the island of Gozo, Malta
Salt weathering of sandstone near Qobustan, Azerbaijan
Permian sandstone wall near Sedona, Arizona, United States, weathered into a small alcove
Weathering on a sandstone pillar in Bayreuth
Weathering effect of acid rain on statues
Weathering effect on a sandstone statue in Dresden, Germany

Deterioration of rocks, soils and minerals as well as wood and artificial materials through contact with water, atmospheric gases, and biological organisms.

- Weathering

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Sedimentary rock

Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic particles at Earth's surface, followed by cementation.

Middle Triassic marginal marine sequence of siltstones (reddish layers at the cliff base) and limestones (brown rocks above), Virgin Formation, southwestern Utah, U.S.
Uluru (Ayers Rock) is a large sandstone formation in Northern Territory, Australia.
Claystone deposited in Glacial Lake Missoula, Montana, United States. Note the very fine and flat bedding, common for deposits coming from lake beds further away from the source of sediment.
Sedimentary rock with sandstone in Malta
Lower Antelope Canyon was carved out of the surrounding sandstone by both mechanical weathering and chemical weathering. Wind, sand, and water from flash flooding are the primary weathering agents.
Outcrop of Ordovician oil shale (kukersite), northern Estonia
Fossils of Nerinea marine gastropods of Late Cretaceous (Cenomanian) age, in limestone in Lebanon
Cross-bedding and scour in a fine sandstone; the Logan Formation (Mississippian) of Jackson County, Ohio
Pressure solution at work in a clastic rock. While material dissolves at places where grains are in contact, that material may recrystallize from the solution and act as cement in open pore spaces. As a result, there is a net flow of material from areas under high stress to those under low stress, producing a sedimentary rock that is harder and more compact. Loose sand can become sandstone in this way.
A piece of a banded iron formation, a type of rock that consists of alternating layers with iron(III) oxide (red) and iron(II) oxide (grey). BIFs were mostly formed during the Precambrian, when the atmosphere was not yet rich in oxygen. Moodies Group, Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa
Diagram showing well-sorted (left) and poorly sorted (right) grains
Diagram showing the rounding and sphericity of grains
Global collage of sand samples. There is one square centimeter of sand on every sample photo. Sand samples row by row from left to right: 1. Glass sand from Kauai, Hawaii 2. Dune sand from the Gobi Desert 3. Quartz sand with green glauconite from Estonia 4. Volcanic sand with reddish weathered basalt from Maui, Hawaii 5. Biogenic coral sand from Molokai, Hawaii 6. Coral pink sand dunes from Utah 7. Volcanic glass sand from California 8. Garnet sand from Emerald Creek, Idaho 9. Olivine sand from Papakolea, Hawaii.
Fossil-rich layers in a sedimentary rock, Año Nuevo State Reserve, California
Burrows in a turbidite, made by crustaceans, San Vincente Formation (early Eocene) of the Ainsa Basin, southern foreland of the Pyrenees
Cross-bedding in a fluviatile sandstone, Middle Old Red Sandstone (Devonian) on Bressay, Shetland Islands
Flute casts, a type of sole marking on the base of a vertical layer of Triassic sandstone in Spain
Ripple marks formed by a current in a sandstone that was later tilted (Haßberge, Bavaria)
Halite crystal mold in dolomite, Paadla Formation (Silurian), Saaremaa, Estonia
Chert concretions in chalk, Middle Lefkara Formation (upper Paleocene to middle Eocene), Cyprus
Common types of depositional environments
The swirls of tan, green, blue, and white are sediment in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico off the Yucatan Peninsula. The blue-green cloud in this image roughly matches the extent of the shallow continental shelf west of the peninsula. This is a perfect example of a shallow marine depositional environment.
Shifting sedimentary facies in the case of transgression (above) and regression of the sea (below)
Plate tectonics diagram showing convergence of an oceanic plate and a continental plate. Note the back-arc basin, forearc basin, and oceanic basin.
Cyclic alternation of competent and less competent beds in the Blue Lias at Lyme Regis, southern England
The Permian through Jurassic stratigraphy of the Colorado Plateau area of southeastern Utah that makes up much of the famous prominent rock formations in protected areas such as Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park. From top to bottom: Rounded tan domes of the Navajo Sandstone, layered red Kayenta Formation, cliff-forming, vertically jointed, red Wingate Sandstone, slope-forming, purplish Chinle Formation, layered, lighter-red Moenkopi Formation, and white, layered Cutler Formation sandstone. Picture from Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah.
Distribution of detritus
Sedimentary rocks on Mars, investigated by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover
Steeply dipping sedimentary rock strata along the Chalous Road in northern Iran
Stratified remains of Puʻu Mahana cinder cone.
A regressive facies shown on a stratigraphic column

The geological detritus originated from weathering and erosion of existing rocks, or from the solidification of molten lava blobs erupted by volcanoes.


Barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life.

Valle de la Luna ("Valley of the Moon") in the Atacama Desert of Chile, the world's driest non-polar desert
Sand and dunes of the Libyan Desert
Sand dunes in the Rub' al Khali ("Empty quarter") in the United Arab Emirates
The Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world
Cold desert: snow surface at Dome C Station, Antarctica
The Agasthiyamalai hills cut off Tirunelveli in India from the monsoons, creating a rainshadow region.
Exfoliation of weathering rocks in Texas, US
One square centimeter (0.16 sq in) of windblown sand from the Gobi Desert
Dust storm about to engulf a military camp in Iraq, 2005
Wind-blown particles: 1. Creep 2. Saltation 3. Suspension 4. Wind current
The world's largest non-polar deserts
Aerial view of Makhtesh Ramon, an erosion cirque of a type unique to the Negev
Diagram showing barchan dune formation, with the wind blowing from the left
Gypsum dune fields, White Sands National Park, New Mexico, United States
Windswept desert pavement of small, smooth, closely packed stones in the Mojave desert
Atacama, the world's driest non-polar desert, part of the Arid Diagonal of South America
Flash flood in the Gobi
Xerophytes: Cardón cacti in the Baja California Desert, Cataviña region, Mexico
The camel thorn tree (Acacia erioloba) in the Namib Desert is nearly leafless in dry periods.
The cream-colored courser, Cursorius cursor, is a well-camouflaged desert resident with its dusty coloration, countershading, and disruptive head markings.
The desert iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) is well-adapted to desert life.
Tadpole shrimp survive dry periods as eggs, which rapidly hatch and develop after rain.
Shepherd near Marrakech leading his flock to new pasture
Salt caravan travelling between Agadez and the Bilma salt mines
A mining plant near Jodhpur, India
Mosaic of fields in Imperial Valley
Desertec proposed using the Saharan and Arabian deserts to produce solar energy to power Europe and the Middle East.
War in the desert: Battle of El Alamein, 1942
Marco Polo arriving in a desert land with camels. 14th-century miniature from Il milione.
View of the Martian desert seen by the robotic rover Spirit in 2004

Deserts are formed by weathering processes as large variations in temperature between day and night put strains on the rocks, which consequently break in pieces.

Atmosphere of Earth

Layer of gases retained by Earth's gravity that surrounds the planet and forms its planetary atmosphere.

NASA photo showing Earth's atmosphere at sunset, with Earth silhouetted
Composition of Earth's atmosphere by molecular count, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.0434% of the atmosphere (0.0442% at August 2021 concentrations ). Numbers are mainly from 2000, with and methane from 2019, and do not represent any single source.
Mean atmospheric water vapor
The mole fraction of the main constituents of the Earth's atmosphere as a function of height according to the MSIS-E-90 atmospheric model.
Earth's atmosphere Lower 4 layers of the atmosphere in 3 dimensions as seen diagonally from above the exobase. Layers drawn to scale, objects within the layers are not to scale. Aurorae shown here at the bottom of the thermosphere can actually form at any altitude in this atmospheric layer.
orbiting in the thermosphere. Because of the angle of the photo, it appears to straddle the stratosphere and mesosphere that actually lie more than 250 km below. The orange layer is the troposphere, which gives way to the whitish stratosphere and then the blue mesosphere.
Temperature trends in two thick layers of the atmosphere as measured between January 1979 and December 2005 by microwave sounding units and advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA weather satellites. The instruments record microwaves emitted from oxygen molecules in the atmosphere. Source:
Temperature and mass density against altitude from the NRLMSISE-00 standard atmosphere model (the eight dotted lines in each "decade" are at the eight cubes 8, 27, 64, ..., 729)
Rough plot of Earth's atmospheric transmittance (or opacity) to various wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation, including visible light.
Distortive effect of atmospheric refraction upon the shape of the sun at the horizon.
An idealised view of three pairs of large circulation cells.
Oxygen content of the atmosphere over the last billion years

The atmosphere changed significantly over time, affected by many factors such as volcanism, life, and weathering.


Spall are fragments of a material that are broken off a larger solid body.

Very high-speed photography of a small projectile striking a thin aluminium plate at 7,000 m/s. The impact causes the projectile to disintegrate, and generates a large number of small fragments from the aluminum (spallation). This can occur without penetration of the plate.
Spall from knapping obsidian arrowheads and other tools. These unique obsidians are found at Glass Buttes, Oregon.
A chunk of armour knocked from HMS New Zealands 'X' turret during the Battle of Jutland on display at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum in Auckland. Caption reads, "The chunk of armour plating you see here was gouged out of X turret by a German shell."
Desquamation of dunite boulder
Granite dome exfoliation

It can be produced by a variety of mechanisms, including as a result of projectile impact, corrosion, weathering, cavitation, or excessive rolling pressure (as in a ball bearing).

In situ

Latin phrase that translates literally to "on site" or "in position."

Ancient Hohokam arrowhead in situ.
Live sea snail, species Nataea, photographed in situ
Diagram of an in situ carcinoma, not having invaded beyond the basement membrane.

For example, in situ is used in relation to the distinction between weathering and erosion, the difference being that erosion requires a transport medium (such as wind, ice, or water), whereas weathering occurs in situ.

Acid rain

Rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic, meaning that it has elevated levels of hydrogen ions .

Processes involved in acid deposition (only SO2 and NOx play a significant role in acid rain)
Acid clouds can grow on SO2 emissions from refineries, as seen here in Curaçao.
Since 1998, Harvard University wraps some of the bronze and marble statues on its campus, such as this "Chinese stele", with waterproof covers every winter, in order to protect them from corrosion caused by acid rain and acid snow
The coal-fired Gavin Power Plant in Cheshire, Ohio
This shows the process of the air pollution being released into the atmosphere and the areas that will be affected.
Not all fish, shellfish, or the insects that they eat can tolerate the same amount of acid; for example, frogs can tolerate water that is more acidic (i.e., has a lower pH) than trout.
Diagram of nutrient leaching in soil with high levels of Soil acidity.
Acid rain can have severe effects on vegetation. A forest in the Black Triangle in Europe.
Effect of acid rain on statues
Acid rain and weathering
Governmental action to combat the effects of acid rain

In terms of human infrastructure, acid rain also causes paint to peel, corrosion of steel structures such as bridges, and weathering of stone buildings and statues as well as having impacts on human health.

Clay mineral

Clay minerals are hydrous aluminium phyllosilicates, sometimes with variable amounts of iron, magnesium, alkali metals, alkaline earths, and other cations found on or near some planetary surfaces.

Oxford Clay (Jurassic) exposed near Weymouth, England
Hexagonal sheets of the clay mineral kaolinite (SEM image, 1,340× magnification)
View of tetrahedral sheet structure of a clay mineral. Apical oxygen ions are tinted pink.

Clay minerals are common weathering products (including weathering of feldspar) and low-temperature hydrothermal alteration products.


Action of surface processes that removes soil, rock, or dissolved material from one location on the Earth's crust, and then transports it to another location where it is deposited.

An actively eroding rill on an intensively-farmed field in eastern Germany
A natural arch produced by the wind erosion of differentially weathered rock in Jebel Kharaz, Jordan
A wave-like sea cliff produced by coastal erosion, in Jinshitan Coastal National Geopark, Dalian, Liaoning Province, China
Soil and water being splashed by the impact of a single raindrop
A spoil tip covered in rills and gullies due to erosion processes caused by rainfall: Rummu, Estonia
Dobbingstone Burn, Scotland, showing two different types of erosion affecting the same place. Valley erosion is occurring due to the flow of the stream, and the boulders and stones (and much of the soil) that are lying on the stream's banks are glacial till that was left behind as ice age glaciers flowed over the terrain.
Layers of chalk exposed by a river eroding through them
Wave cut platform caused by erosion of cliffs by the sea, at Southerndown in South Wales
Erosion of the boulder clay (of Pleistocene age) along cliffs of Filey Bay, Yorkshire, England
The Devil's Nest (Pirunpesä), the deepest ground erosion in Europe, located in Jalasjärvi, Kurikka, Finland
Glacial moraines above Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada
The mouth of the River Seaton in Cornwall after heavy rainfall caused flooding in the area and cause a significant amount of the beach to erode; leaving behind a tall sand bank in its place
Árbol de Piedra, a rock formation in the Altiplano, Bolivia sculpted by wind erosion
A wadi in Makhtesh Ramon, Israel, showing gravity collapse erosion on its banks

Erosion is distinct from weathering which involves no movement.

Rock (geology)

Any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter.

The Grand Canyon is an incision through layers of sedimentary rocks.
A balancing rock called Kummakivi (literally "strange stone")
Rock outcrop along a mountain creek near Orosí, Costa Rica.
Sample of igneous gabbro
Sedimentary sandstone with iron oxide bands
Metamorphic banded gneiss
Ceremonial cairn of rocks, an ovoo, from Mongolia
A stonehouse on the hill in Sastamala, Finland
Raised garden bed with natural stones
Mi Vida uranium mine near Moab, Utah

Sedimentary rocks are formed by diagenesis and lithification of sediments, which in turn are formed by the weathering, transport, and deposition of existing rocks.


Mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support life.

A, B, and C represent the soil profile, a notation firstly coined by Vasily Dokuchaev (1846–1903), the father of pedology. Here, A is the topsoil; B is a regolith; C is a saprolite (a less-weathered regolith); the bottom-most layer represents the bedrock.
Surface-water-gley developed in glacial till in Northern Ireland
Soil profile: Darkened topsoil and reddish subsoil layers are typical of humid subtropical climate regions.
Erosion control

It continually undergoes development by way of numerous physical, chemical and biological processes, which include weathering with associated erosion.