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Weathering and Erosion – Changes on Land Caused by the Weather

Grade 4
Jun 9, 2023


You’ve seen how weathering,  erosion, and deposition gradually alter the land. There are several factors, like wind, water, chemicals, and depositions, that shape the land.

Various shapes of rock on Earth are formed by weathering and erosion.

What are Weathering and Erosion?

Rocks are always changing. Rocks can break into smaller pieces due to freezing and thawing, plants, wind, and pressure. Weathering is the process by which rocks break down.

There are two types of weather:

  1. Physical weathering
  2. chemical weathering.


Erosion is the process in which weathered rock is transported from one place to another by wind, water, ice, or gravity and deposited somewhere else.

Weathering and erosion

What causes the Earth’s surface to change so rapidly?


Water can flow across the land as a result of heavy rain or quickly melting snow. The water may not completely soak into the ground. It runs on the land’s surface. It enters streams and rivers. The excess water may overflow the sides or banks of streams and rivers. Then it floods the surrounding land. A flood is an overflow (excess) of water onto usually dry land.

Cities flood when water drains cannot remove the water quickly enough. The drains are clogged. The roads become flooded.


Floods can bring mud into homes and roads. The mud and water cause significant damage. Floodwaters rapidly erode the soil. They can wash away trees and everything else in their path.

Floods also have a function in nature. Following a flood, new soil is deposited on the land. The nutrients (food) in this soil allow plants to grow.



Fires are more likely when there isn’t enough rain. Many fires are due to lightning strikes. A fire can quickly transform a forest into a charred field of tree trunks.

Forest animals are losing their natural habitats. Winds spread grassland fires, which are fueled by dry plants. The majority of places recover from natural fires.

Forest Fires-Before and After

Changes on Land Caused by Storms

Have you heard the phrase “When it rains, it pours”? Light rain may cause a few puddles here and there. A powerful storm can alter the landscape.


A thunderstorm can produce a violent storm known as a tornado. Tornadoes are wind columns that spin. They move in a straight line across the ground. Tornadoes whip up or destroy everything in their path as they move.

Tornadoes are common in the United States Great Plains region. One route through that area is known as “Tornado Alley.”



You may have witnessed a hurricane if you live near the ocean or the Gulf Coast. A hurricane is a massive, swirling storm. Its center, or eye, has a very low-pressure zone. Strong winds, cloud walls, and pounding rains encircle the eye.

A hurricane is significantly larger than a tornado. It can stretch for hundreds of kilometers. It also has a longer lifespan. Hurricanes form over warm, equatorial oceans. As they travel, they create large waves.

Winds and waves can force water onshore when a hurricane approaches the coast. Massive floods are possible. Flooding is exacerbated by heavy rains. The devastation does not stop there. A hurricane can uproot trees and flatten buildings once it reaches land. It has the potential to alter an entire ecosystem in a single day.


Changes in Land Due to Landslides

Have you ever seen a rock pile at the bottom of a hill? How did they arrive? Gravity plays a role in the solution. Gravity pulls rocks and other objects from high elevations to low elevations.

Heavy rains can cause loose rock and soil to slide down a slope quickly. A landslide is the unexpected downhill movement of large amounts of these materials.


A landslide is similar to an avalanche. Tons of ice and snow rush down a mountain in an avalanche. Scientists are working on forecasting when and where landslides and avalanches will occur. They have no idea when one will strike. When you’re near mountains, you need to be extra cautious.

Weathering and Erosion


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