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Climate Influencing Mass Wasting, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 280

Essay

Introduction

In very general terms geologists have referred mass wasting as ‘landslides’. These can often lead to mass destruction and loss of life. They may be triggered by earthquakes or avalanches. Mass wasting is the downslope of materials initiated by gravitational forces. This is often caused by weathering or erosion. This can be a slow movement or creep process or as fast as a rockfall, a slide or avalanche. (Lutgens, 2010).

Influence of Climate on Mass Wasting

Climate and climate change can impose considerable changes on mass wasting. Those environments that are subject to frequent freeze and thaw cycles, forcing expansion and contraction of water that seeps into rock formations. This type of physical weathering forces the rocks to crack and break apart. Irrigation on sloped areas has been said to intensify the risks from mass wasting by getting too much water that may impact the stability of the rocks. Increased rainfall can increase the hydrostatic pressure and these can act like lubricants to slides once they are in motion.

In dry arid climates like of Arizona it is possible to witness mass wasting on a grand scale. The canyons and mountains frequently experience rock slides and debris movement. Minor earthquakes can be enough to shake things loose and cause rock slides. Rainfall tends to be less of a factor here. The lack of water prevents a lack of cohesion in the rocks and because the slopes are steep they are exerting a lot more gravitational force on the slopes. The steeper the slopes the more likely that rock falls will occur without notice. Arid climates contain less vegetation that help protects against erosion because the root systems help to bind the soil together.

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