Weathering Breaking down rock into sediment

Weathering is the natural process that breaks down rock into sediment. Rock can be broken down physically or chemically.

Chemical Weathering

Chemical compounds secreted by lichens and plants, oxidation of minerals in rocks, and acids formed when water bonds with carbon dioxide and other compounds can all cause chemical weathering.


Lichens secrete chemical compounds that will chemically weather rocks over time.

Plant roots and leaves

Plant roots and leaves secrete acids that will chemically weather rock over time.


When oxygen bonds with minerals in rocks it causes a chemical change that corrodes the mineral, resulting in a more brittle substance. This process is called oxidation, and it will chemically weather rocks over time.

Carbonic acid

Water that bonds with carbon dioxide in the soil or air forms a weak acid called carbonic acid. When this acid comes into contact with limestone it causes a chemical reaction that slowly dissolves it. It chemically weathers rocks over time. This affects rocks on the surface, as well as beneath the soil. Carbonic acid that percolates through limestone rock underground causes the formation of caves.


Created with images by BLMOregon - "Lichen on a rock outcrop at Steens Mountain, Oregon." • jaisril - "Lichen in Fjallsárlón, Iceland" • bentheskinner - "forest roots rock" • makamuki0 - "rock slate priorat" • tuiconnect - "limestone honeycomb rock" • falco - "iceland vik south coast" • Clearly Ambiguous - "I lichen this rock" • RjOConnor - "lichen rock stone" • Cargo Cult - "Kauai" • Picography - "tree trunk forest floor trunk" • adamupchurch32 - "leaves autumn fall" • James St. John - "Iron oxide-travertine dripstone (Ohio Caverns, western Ohio, USA) 2" • James St. John - "Glacial copper (Portage Lake Volcanic Series, late Mesoproterozoic, 1.05 to 1.06 Ga; Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA) 1" • tdlucas5000 - "Rocks for Colette" • OregonCavesNPS - "Miller's Chapel" • Arenamontanus - "S3" • ComputerHotline - "Stalactite at the Salbert hill fortifications"

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