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Erosion

Erosion, the movement of rocks which have been worn down by weathering, is one part of Geography which GCSE students need to understand. This quiz will test their knowledge of coastal, river, glacial and other forms of erosion.

Erosion is the way that rocks and soil are worn away by wind, water, ice and other methods. Our entire planet is carved and shaped by this process. Erosion carves gorges and valleys and leaves behind the landscapes that we recognise. Everything from the Lake District to the Somerset Levels, and the land that London is built on through to the Yorkshire Dales - all are shaped by the processes of erosion.

The movement of water is the major component of erosion. Rain will move soil and rocks that have been worn down by weathering, and carry them down the drainage basin into streams and eventually into the rivers. The rivers carry them even further before they are either deposited on flood plains or carried into the sea where they are moved again to form something else. Waves from the sea attack the cliffs that their erosion has formed, leaving coastal features such as stacks and caves.

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It's not just liquid water that causes erosion though. Frozen water in the form of glaciers also changes the landscape. The movement of these glaciers plucks huge chunks out of rocks and scrapes soil ahead of them. These alien bits of geology are then dumped as the glaciers retreat. Wind also changes things. It scours landscapes, building up huge dunes on beaches and in deserts. Some dunes can reach heights of over 400m. The erosion can carve features like Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia. This is the remnants of a mountain range that has been almost completely erased.

Looking at how this material, worn down by weathering, is moved around by erosion is key to understanding so many processes, such as hydroelectric systems, how to protect buildings, how to protect beaches and so protect the settlements inland, and how to save people’s lives from flooding, landslides and sudden geological actions. In this quiz we will examine the action of rivers, coastal processes and ice on rocks and soils.

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  1. South Stack in Anglesey is an example of a stack - a type of coastal erosional landform. What was this landform before it was eroded to form a stack?
    Caves in headlands can become arches, which when they collapse may leave a stack behind. This stack in turn will erode to a stump
  2. Which of the following is not a way that climate change will increase erosion?
    Whilst trees and plants may increase weathering, in general they decrease erosion by holding material in situ
  3. When river velocity slows the larger particles fall out of suspension. Which of these examples shows when velocity may drop leading to silting up of a part of the river?
    When the river goes from a narrow channel to a wider channel, such as entering a lake or the sea, the velocity falls. It's the opposite of what happens when you put your thumb over the end of a garden hose
  4. What type of coastal wave causes erosion?
    Waves can be either destructive or constructive. Destructive waves have a stronger backwash than swash and are normally created in storm conditions
  5. Glaciers carve out landforms as they move across the landscape. What is the valley shape that is commonly cut by a glacier?
    Glaciers smooth and round out V-shaped river valleys, leaving behind a rounded valley floor with steep sides
  6. Which are the four main types of river transportation of eroded material?
    These four transportation methods are in order of size of particles they carry. In solution the particles are dissolved in the water, in suspension, particles are carried in the water (it's why most rivers look brown), saltation is where small rocks and pebbles bounce along the bank and traction sees larger rocks tumble and roll along the river bed
  7. Weathering and erosion are a key part of the rock cycle. Which class of rocks are formed after weathering and erosion have attacked other rocks?
    Sedimentary rocks are made up of the sediments from the weathering and erosion other rocks and minerals. These are deposited by the agents of erosion such as rivers, the wind and glaciers. Examples include sandstone and mudstone
  8. Rivers are one of the most powerful forces of erosion on land. What are the four main types of river erosion?
    Hydraulic action is the force of the river on the bank, abrasion is the wear of the rocks as they are carried across the river bed, attrition is the damage done to the rocks as they bang together and solution occurs as particles are dissolved by the water
  9. Which of the following is not a method by which deforestation increases erosion?
    Tourism if well managed can have little or no impact on erosion, but sometimes the footpaths, car parks and general traffic lead to an increase in erosion
  10. Some rocks show that a glacier has eroded them by scratch marks across their faces. What are these scratches known as?
    Striations occur when angular fragments are dragged across the rock by the glacier

Author: Ruth M

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