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What Causes Erosion To Take Place

Erosion is a continuing process, and can be caused by a number of means, both natural and artificial. Many times, erosion is associated with natural disasters such as landslides, poor soil conditions, and even hurricanes and tropical storms. The fact is that erosion is something that does need to occur in the environment, an important part of the geological process that makes the Earth what it is. When rock and soil are continually worn down during erosion, they cycle through the Earth’s crust and make for a constantly changing and shifting surface.

The single most common and effective erosive agent is water, which is often called the universal solvent because of its ability to dissolve and change things.  Rain and runoff are the major contributors to erosion, as well as glaciers, snow, and ice.  Ice can be one of the worst, as it has the power to quite literally rip rocks and soil apart as it expands and contracts.  Spectacular examples of erosion may be found on ocean fronts, in the form of huge rocky terraces that have been worn down by the ocean over thousands of years.

Tectonic movement and wind may also contribute to erosion, with wind transporting materials from one place to another, creating a scouring force that causes erosion.  Materials will also obey the law of gravity, sliding down slopes and tearing away great chunks of soil and earth as they go. This is the same downward pull that causes mountains to melt into the hills and plains, and is still occurring today, although on not as spectacular a scale as the average landslide.

Human activity may also bring about erosion, typically through poor land management. Overgrazing is one of the major causes of erosion, with animals such as cows causing serious problems along river banks.  Those areas that have been heavily grazed for hundreds of years demonstrate clear signs of erosion as the protective surface plants and trees are stripped from the soil. With the soil no longer held in place by roots and plant matter, it slides away during rainy periods.

The most famous instance of erosion was known in history as the Dust Bowl, and caused at least partially by human activity such as farming the soil to exhaustion, combined with weather patterns. The end result was a massive loss of topsoil throughout many parts of North America. Moderns farming techniques are similar to the ones that caused the problem in the first place, which has raised concern among some environmentalists.

Homeowners can prevent erosion on a local level simply through proper landscaping techniques, channeling any and all excess water away from the property and preventing localized flooding.  By not allowing the water to become saturated, runoff and subsequent erosion problems are effectively curtailed.

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