According to Carnicelli, the main forces behind various landscapes are weathering, erosion, and deposition. The movement of soil, rocks, and mineral particles from one place to another is referred to as erosion (Carnicelli). Additionally, erosion is mainly influenced by environmental factors (Toy, Foster, and Renard, 25). On the other hand, deposition takes place when transported substances settle on the surface (Carnicelli). A deposition is mainly influenced by the characteristics of sediments and the velocity of transporting agents (Carnicelli). This paper describes the processes of erosion and deposition, and factors influencing these processes.
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Toy, Foster, and Renard reiterate that the most popular geomorphic process on the earth’s surface is erosion (25). Erosion occurs after rocks are broken down into smaller particles through a process called weathering (Carnicelli). Unlike weathering, erosion is characterized by the movement of rock particles. Therefore, all agents of erosion are driven by gravity (Carnicelli). The type and rate of erosion are mainly determined by environmental factors (25).
These factors include “climate, topography, soil and land cover and use” (25). Climate has a direct and indirect influence on erosion. In addition, precipitation is the most striking climatic condition that influences soil erosion (26). Rainfall, which causes water erosion, is the main form of precipitation that causes soil erosion. Soil, on the other hand, influences erosion through its various properties. For instance, the erodibility of soil depends on its composition. Sandy soils have lower erodibility values than soils high in silt (32). In addition, binding agents of organic compounds and soil structure are some of the other soil-related factors that influence erosion (32).
The geometry of a landscape is referred to as topography (33). Topography, therefore, refers to variables such as slope length, steepness, and shape. Erosion is more prominent along a uniform slope than a non-uniform slope since runoff accumulates along with it (33). Steepness in non-uniform slopes varies along its course. This explains why non-uniform slopes experience reduced erosion. Lastly, land cover and use influence erosion more than any other factor (37). For that reason, areas with more human activities experience rampant erosion. For instance, protected zones such as forests are less eroded than cultivated and over-grazed fields.
A deposition is a final step in the erosion process. Deposition mainly takes place at the mouth of a stream or a river through a process known as horizontal sorting (Carnicelli). The main factors that affect deposition include “particle size, shape and density and the velocity of the transporting stream” (Carnicelli par. 2). In a deposition, larger particles settle faster than smaller ones due to gravity. In addition, smaller particles stay in suspension for an extended period of time.
However, sediments of certain shapes settle faster than others during deposition. For instance, flat sediments settle slower than round sediments of equal size and weight. Denser particles, on the other hand, settle faster than lighter ones. Consequently, heavier sediments are deposited faster than lighter ones. Sediments are also more likely to settle on a stream that moves slower than a fast-flowing stream. Therefore, the velocity of the depositing agent determines the number of sediments deposited at any given time.
Erosion and deposition are some of the main processes involved in land forming processes. Without these processes, changes brought about by occurrences such as earthquakes and tectonic movements would be irreversible. However, certain factors also shape these processes. These factors are related to the environment, humans, and soil particles.
Toy, Terrence, Foster George, and Renard Kenneth. Soil Erosion: Processes, Prediction, Measurement, and Control. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002. Print.
Carnicelli, Luke. n.d. Earth Science: Weathering, Erosion, Deposition and landforms. Web.