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How does erosion affect us?
Question Date: 2012-11-21
Answer 1:

The processes that are responsible for the destruction of rocks at the Earth's surface are conventionally divided into weathering (in which chemical and physical processes break big rocks into tiny pieces) and erosion (in which those tiny pieces are carried from their original place down slope or downstream). Naturally you will be worried about erosion if your house is built on a steep slope and the ground is eroding out from beneath you or if you might be buried in a landslide.

If you travel on a winding road cut into a steep mountainside, you might notice that over the years the down-slope side is slowly retreating back as the edge of the road erodes a way, while the road might occasionally get buried by debris that washes in from above.

Another way that erosion can affect us is in the erosion of topsoil--modern farming methods (like plowing the ground with tractors) can lead to soil being blown away by the wind or being carried into rivers when it rains, and this is a problem because soils form very slowly and in many places soil formation can't keep up with the high rates of soil loss due to erosion. During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when a severe drought hit parts of the central U.S. that were being farmed unsustainably, up to 75% of the topsoil in some areas was blown away. But processes of weathering and erosion affect us in grander ways too because they are some of the basic forces that shape the face of our planet. They wear down mountains and fill in valleys; they are why the seas are salty and the land is clothed with life-giving soil.

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