What Is The Difference Between Weathering And Denudation?

By Sharon Omondi on September 13 2019 in Environment

Limestone that has undergone chemical weathering.
Limestone that has undergone chemical weathering.

What is Weathering? 

Weathering is a process that involves the breaking down of rocks into smaller particles. The process occurs near the surface of the Earth, and there are three primary forms of weathering: organic weathering, physical weathering, and chemical weathering. Organic weathering refers to the breaking down of rocks caused by living organisms, such as through the release of acidic compounds by plants and animals. Physical weathering, also known as mechanical weathering, is the decomposition of a rock’s physical structure, while chemical weathering involves changes in the chemical structure of rock, making it more brittle. An example of chemical weathering is when the acid in rainwater removes calcium from limestone. Additionally, chemical weathering usually occurs before the physical weathering of rocks.

What Is Denudation?

Denudation refers to processes that lead to the chemical and physical disintegration of rocks, which eventually results in the wearing away of the Earth’s surface. There are three denudation processes: erosion, weathering, and mass wasting. While weathering involves the decomposition of rocks, erosion refers to the removal of soil particles, rocks, and other earth materials from one location to another caused by wind and water. Mass wasting is the movement of soil, sand, rock, and residue down a slope driven by gravitational force. In most cases, there are also debris flows and mudflow during mass wasting.

Differences Between Weathering and Denudation

  • Weathering is a short-term process, while denudation is a long-term process that takes years to occur.
  • The weathering process causes the disintegration of rock, while denudation results in the wearing of all parts of the Earth's surface.
  • Weathering is just one part of the denudation process, along with erosion and mass wasting, and can be considered as the first stage of denudation.
  • Weathering is caused by temperature changes, wind, rain, bacteria, and plants, whereas denudation is caused by volcanoes, earthquakes, and plate tectonics. 

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