Earth Science: Chapter 8 – Weathering and Soil Formation

weathering
the chemical and physical processes that break down rock at Earth’s surface

erosion
the process by which water, ice, wind, or gravity moves weathered rock or soil

uniformitarianism
the geologic principle that the same geologic processes that operate today operated in the past to change Earth’s surface

mechanical weathering
the type of weathering in which rock is physically broken down into smaller pieces

abrasion
the grinding away of rock by other rock

ice wedging
process that splits rock when water seeps into cracks, then freezes and expands

chemical weathering
the process that breaks down rock through chemical changes

oxidation
a chemical change in which a substance combines with oxygen, as when iron oxidizes, forming rust

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permeable
characteristic of a material that is full of tiny, connected air spaces that water can seep through

soil
the loose, weathered material on Earth’s surface in which plants can grow

bedrock
the solid layer of rock beneath the soil

humus
dark-colored organic material in soil

fertility
a measure of how well soil supports plant grown

loam
rich, fertile soil that is made up of about equal parts of clay, sand, and silt

soil horizon
the layer of soil that differs in color and texture from the layers above or below it

topsoil
mixture of humus, clay, and other minerals that forms the crumbly, topmost layer of soil

subsoil
the layer of soil beneath the topsoil that contains mostly clay and other minerals

litter
the loose layer of dead plant leaves and stems on the surface of the soil

decomposer
soil organism that breaks down the remains of organisms and digests them

sod
a thick mass of grass roots and soil

natural resource
anything in the environment that humans use

Dust Bowl
the area of the Great Plains where wind erosion caused soil loss during the 1930’s

soil conservation
the management of soil to prevent its destruction

contour plowing
plowing fields along the curves of a slope to prevent soil loss

conservation plowing
soil conservation method in which the dead stalks from the previous year’s crop are left in the ground to hold the soil in place

crop rotation
the planting of different crops in a field each year to maintain the soil’s fertility

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