Weathering is the breaking down of rocks and minerals as well as wood and artificial materials through contact with the Earth's atmosphere and biological organisms. Weathering occurs in situ, that is, in the same place, with little or no movement, thus should not be confused with erosion, which involves the movement of rocks and minerals by agents such as water, snow, wind and gravity and being transported and deposited in other locations. Two important classifications of weathering processes exist – physical and chemical weathering. Mechanical or physical weathering involves the breakdown of rocks and soils through direct contact with atmospheric conditions, such as heat, water and pressure; the second classification, chemical weathering, involves the direct effect of atmospheric chemicals or biologically produced chemicals known as biological weathering in the breakdown of rocks and minerals. While physical weathering is accentuated in cold or dry environments, chemical reactions are most intense where the climate is wet and hot.
However, both types of weathering occur together, each tends to accelerate the other. For example, physical abrasion decreases the size of particles and therefore increases their surface area, making them more susceptible to chemical reactions; the various agents act in concert to convert primary minerals to secondary minerals and release plant nutrient elements in soluble forms. The materials left over after the rock breaks down combined with organic material creates soil; the mineral content of the soil is determined by the parent material. In addition, many of Earth's landforms and landscapes are the result of weathering processes combined with erosion and re-deposition. Physical weathering called mechanical weathering or disaggregation, is the class of processes that causes the disintegration of rocks without chemical change; the primary process in physical weathering is abrasion. However and physical weathering go hand in hand. Physical weathering can occur due to temperature, frost etc. For example, cracks exploited by physical weathering will increase the surface area exposed to chemical action, thus amplifying the rate of disintegration.
Abrasion by water and wind processes loaded with sediment can have tremendous cutting power, as is amply demonstrated by the gorges and valleys around the world. In glacial areas, huge moving ice masses embedded with soil and rock fragments grind down rocks in their path and carry away large volumes of material. Plant roots pry them apart, resulting in some disintegration. However, such biotic influences are of little importance in producing parent material when compared to the drastic physical effects of water, ice and temperature change. Thermal stress weathering, sometimes called insolation weathering, results from the expansion and contraction of rock, caused by temperature changes. For example, heating of rocks by sunlight or fires can cause expansion of their constituent minerals; as some minerals expand more than others, temperature changes set up differential stresses that cause the rock to crack apart. Because the outer surface of a rock is warmer or colder than the more protected inner portions, some rocks may weather by exfoliation – the peeling away of outer layers.
This process may be accelerated if ice forms in the surface cracks. When water freezes, it expands with a force of about 1465 Mg/m^2, disintegrating huge rock masses and dislodging mineral grains from smaller fragments. Thermal stress weathering comprises thermal shock and thermal fatigue. Thermal stress weathering is an important mechanism in deserts, where there is a large diurnal temperature range, hot in the day and cold at night; the repeated heating and cooling exerts stress on the outer layers of rocks, which can cause their outer layers to peel off in thin sheets. The process of peeling off is called exfoliation. Although temperature changes are the principal driver, moisture can enhance thermal expansion in rock. Forest fires and range fires are known to cause significant weathering of rocks and boulders exposed along the ground surface. Intense localized heat can expand a boulder; the thermal heat from wildfire can cause significant weathering of rocks and boulders, heat can expand a boulder and thermal shock can occur.
The differential expansion of a thermal gradient can be understood in terms of stress or of strain, equivalently. At some point, this stress can exceed the strength of the material. If nothing stops this crack from propagating through the material, it will result in the object's structure to fail. Frost weathering called ice wedging or cryofracturing, is the collective name for several processes where ice is present; these processes include frost frost-wedging and freeze -- thaw weathering. Severe frost shattering produces huge piles of rock fragments called scree which may be located at the foot of mountain areas or along slopes. Frost weathering is common in mountain areas where the temperature is around the freezing point of water. Certain frost-susceptible soils expand or heave upon freezing as a result of water migrating via capillary action to grow ice lenses nea
The Cambrian Period was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, of the Phanerozoic Eon. The Cambrian lasted 55.6 million years from the end of the preceding Ediacaran Period 541 million years ago to the beginning of the Ordovician Period 485.4 mya. Its subdivisions, its base, are somewhat in flux; the period was established by Adam Sedgwick, who named it after Cambria, the Latin name of Wales, where Britain's Cambrian rocks are best exposed. The Cambrian is unique in its unusually high proportion of lagerstätte sedimentary deposits, sites of exceptional preservation where "soft" parts of organisms are preserved as well as their more resistant shells; as a result, our understanding of the Cambrian biology surpasses that of some periods. The Cambrian marked a profound change in life on Earth. Complex, multicellular organisms became more common in the millions of years preceding the Cambrian, but it was not until this period that mineralized—hence fossilized—organisms became common; the rapid diversification of life forms in the Cambrian, known as the Cambrian explosion, produced the first representatives of all modern animal phyla.
Phylogenetic analysis has supported the view that during the Cambrian radiation, metazoa evolved monophyletically from a single common ancestor: flagellated colonial protists similar to modern choanoflagellates. Although diverse life forms prospered in the oceans, the land is thought to have been comparatively barren—with nothing more complex than a microbial soil crust and a few molluscs that emerged to browse on the microbial biofilm. Most of the continents were dry and rocky due to a lack of vegetation. Shallow seas flanked the margins of several continents created during the breakup of the supercontinent Pannotia; the seas were warm, polar ice was absent for much of the period. Despite the long recognition of its distinction from younger Ordovician rocks and older Precambrian rocks, it was not until 1994 that the Cambrian system/period was internationally ratified; the base of the Cambrian lies atop a complex assemblage of trace fossils known as the Treptichnus pedum assemblage. The use of Treptichnus pedum, a reference ichnofossil to mark the lower boundary of the Cambrian, is difficult since the occurrence of similar trace fossils belonging to the Treptichnids group are found well below the T. pedum in Namibia and Newfoundland, in the western USA.
The stratigraphic range of T. pedum overlaps the range of the Ediacaran fossils in Namibia, in Spain. The Cambrian Period was followed by the Ordovician Period; the Cambrian is divided into ten ages. Only three series and six stages are named and have a GSSP; because the international stratigraphic subdivision is not yet complete, many local subdivisions are still used. In some of these subdivisions the Cambrian is divided into three series with locally differing names – the Early Cambrian, Middle Cambrian and Furongian. Rocks of these epochs are referred to as belonging to Upper Cambrian. Trilobite zones allow biostratigraphic correlation in the Cambrian; each of the local series is divided into several stages. The Cambrian is divided into several regional faunal stages of which the Russian-Kazakhian system is most used in international parlance: *Most Russian paleontologists define the lower boundary of the Cambrian at the base of the Tommotian Stage, characterized by diversification and global distribution of organisms with mineral skeletons and the appearance of the first Archaeocyath bioherms.
The International Commission on Stratigraphy list the Cambrian period as beginning at 541 million years ago and ending at 485.4 million years ago. The lower boundary of the Cambrian was held to represent the first appearance of complex life, represented by trilobites; the recognition of small shelly fossils before the first trilobites, Ediacara biota earlier, led to calls for a more defined base to the Cambrian period. After decades of careful consideration, a continuous sedimentary sequence at Fortune Head, Newfoundland was settled upon as a formal base of the Cambrian period, to be correlated worldwide by the earliest appearance of Treptichnus pedum. Discovery of this fossil a few metres below the GSSP led to the refinement of this statement, it is the T. pedum ichnofossil assemblage, now formally used to correlate the base of the Cambrian. This formal designation allowed radiometric dates to be obtained from samples across the globe that corresponded to the base of the Cambrian. Early dates of 570 million years ago gained favour, though the methods used to obtain this number are now considered to be unsuitable and inaccurate.
A more precise date using modern radiometric dating yield a date of 541 ± 0.3 million years ago. The ash horizon in Oman from which this date was recovered corresponds to a marked fall in the abundance of carbon-13 that correlates to equivalent excursions elsewhere in the world, to the disappearance of distinctive Ediacaran fossils. There are arguments that the dated horizon in Oman does not correspond to the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary, but represents a facies change from marine to evaporite-dominated strata — which w
Uluru known as Ayers Rock and gazetted as Uluru / Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia. It lies 335 km south west of Alice Springs. Uluru is sacred to the Aboriginal people of the area; the area around the formation is home to an abundance of springs, rock caves and ancient paintings. Uluru is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Uluru and Kata Tjuta known as the Olgas, are the two major features of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park; the local Anangu, the Pitjantjatjara people, call the landmark Uluṟu. This word is a proper noun, with no further particular meaning in the Pitjantjatjara dialect, although it is used as a local family name by the senior Traditional Owners of Uluru. On 19 July 1873, the surveyor William Gosse sighted the landmark and named it Ayers Rock in honour of the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers. Since both names have been used. In 1993, a dual naming policy was adopted that allowed official names that consist of both the traditional Aboriginal name and the English name.
On 15 December 1993, it was renamed "Ayers Rock / Uluru" and became the first official dual-named feature in the Northern Territory. The order of the dual names was reversed to "Uluru / Ayers Rock" on 6 November 2002 following a request from the Regional Tourism Association in Alice Springs. Uluru is one of Australia's most recognisable natural landmarks; the sandstone formation stands 348 m high, rising 863 m above sea level with most of its bulk lying underground, has a total circumference of 9.4 km. Both Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta formation have great cultural significance for the Aṉangu people, the traditional inhabitants of the area, who lead walking tours to inform visitors about the local flora and fauna, bush food and the Aboriginal dreamtime stories of the area. Uluru is notable for appearing to change colour at different times of the day and year, most notably when it glows red at dawn and sunset. Kata Tjuta called Mount Olga or the Olgas, lies 25 km west of Uluru. Special viewing areas with road access and parking have been constructed to give tourists the best views of both sites at dawn and dusk.
Uluru is an inselberg "island mountain". An inselberg is a prominent isolated residual knob or hill that rises abruptly from and is surrounded by extensive and flat erosion lowlands in a hot, dry region. Uluru is often referred to as a monolith, although this is a somewhat ambiguous term, avoided by geologists; the remarkable feature of Uluru is its homogeneity and lack of jointing and parting at bedding surfaces, leading to the lack of development of scree slopes and soil. These characteristics led to its survival. For the purpose of mapping and describing the geological history of the area, geologists refer to the rock strata making up Uluru as the Mutitjulu Arkose, it is one of many sedimentary formations filling the Amadeus Basin. Uluru is dominantly composed of some conglomerate. Average composition is 25 -- 35 % quartz and up to 25 % rock fragments; the grains are 2–4 millimetres in diameter, are angular to subangular. The rock fragments include subrounded basalt, invariably replaced to various degrees by chlorite and epidote.
The minerals present suggest derivation from a predominantly granite source, similar to the Musgrave Block exposed to the south. When fresh, the rock has a grey colour, but weathering of iron-bearing minerals by the process of oxidation gives the outer surface layer of rock a red-brown rusty colour. Features related to deposition of the sediment include cross-bedding and ripples, analysis of which indicated deposition from broad shallow high energy fluvial channels and sheet flooding, typical of alluvial fans; the Mutitjulu Arkose is believed to be of about the same age as the conglomerate at Kata Tjuta, to have a similar origin despite the rock type being different, but it is younger than the rocks exposed to the east at Mount Conner, unrelated to them. The strata at Uluru are nearly vertical, dipping to the south west at 85°, have an exposed thickness of at least 2,400 m; the strata dip below the surrounding plain and no doubt extend well beyond Uluru in the subsurface, but the extent is not known.
The rock was sand, deposited as part of an extensive alluvial fan that extended out from the ancestors of the Musgrave and Petermann Ranges to the south and west, but separate from a nearby fan that deposited the sand and cobbles that now make up Kata Tjuta. The similar mineral composition of the Mutitjulu Arkose and the granite ranges to the south is now explained; the ancestors of the ranges to the south were once much larger than the eroded remnants we see today. They were thrust up during a mountain building episode referred to as the Petermann Orogeny that took place in late Neoproterozoic to early Cambrian times, thus the Mutitjulu Arkose is believed to have been deposited at about the same time; the arkose sandstone which makes up the formation is composed of grains that show little sorting based on grain size, exhibit little rounding and the feldspars in the rock are fresh in appearance. This lack of sorting and grain rounding is
Quartz is a mineral composed of silicon and oxygen atoms in a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall chemical formula of SiO2. Quartz is the second most abundant mineral behind feldspar. Quartz exists in two forms, the normal α-quartz and the high-temperature β-quartz, both of which are chiral; the transformation from α-quartz to β-quartz takes place abruptly at 573 °C. Since the transformation is accompanied by a significant change in volume, it can induce fracturing of ceramics or rocks passing through this temperature threshold. There are many different varieties of quartz. Since antiquity, varieties of quartz have been the most used minerals in the making of jewelry and hardstone carvings in Eurasia; the word "quartz" is derived from the German word "Quarz", which had the same form in the first half of the 14th century in Middle High German in East Central German and which came from the Polish dialect term kwardy, which corresponds to the Czech term tvrdý.
The Ancient Greeks referred to quartz as κρύσταλλος derived from the Ancient Greek κρύος meaning "icy cold", because some philosophers believed the mineral to be a form of supercooled ice. Today, the term rock crystal is sometimes used as an alternative name for the purest form of quartz. Quartz belongs to the trigonal crystal system; the ideal crystal shape is a six-sided prism terminating with six-sided pyramids at each end. In nature quartz crystals are twinned, distorted, or so intergrown with adjacent crystals of quartz or other minerals as to only show part of this shape, or to lack obvious crystal faces altogether and appear massive. Well-formed crystals form in a'bed' that has unconstrained growth into a void. However, doubly terminated crystals do occur where they develop without attachment, for instance within gypsum. A quartz geode is such a situation where the void is spherical in shape, lined with a bed of crystals pointing inward. Α-quartz crystallizes in the trigonal crystal system, space group P3121 or P3221 depending on the chirality.
Β-quartz belongs to space group P6222 and P6422, respectively. These space groups are chiral. Both α-quartz and β-quartz are examples of chiral crystal structures composed of achiral building blocks; the transformation between α- and β-quartz only involves a comparatively minor rotation of the tetrahedra with respect to one another, without change in the way they are linked. Although many of the varietal names arose from the color of the mineral, current scientific naming schemes refer to the microstructure of the mineral. Color is a secondary identifier for the cryptocrystalline minerals, although it is a primary identifier for the macrocrystalline varieties. Pure quartz, traditionally called rock crystal or clear quartz, is colorless and transparent or translucent, has been used for hardstone carvings, such as the Lothair Crystal. Common colored varieties include citrine, rose quartz, smoky quartz, milky quartz, others; these color differentiation's arise from chromophores which have been incorporated into the crystal structure of the mineral.
Polymorphs of quartz include: α-quartz, β-quartz, moganite, cristobalite and stishovite. The most important distinction between types of quartz is that of macrocrystalline and the microcrystalline or cryptocrystalline varieties; the cryptocrystalline varieties are either translucent or opaque, while the transparent varieties tend to be macrocrystalline. Chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline form of silica consisting of fine intergrowths of both quartz, its monoclinic polymorph moganite. Other opaque gemstone varieties of quartz, or mixed rocks including quartz including contrasting bands or patterns of color, are agate, carnelian or sard, onyx and jasper. Amethyst is a form of quartz that ranges from a dull purple color; the world's largest deposits of amethysts can be found in Brazil, Uruguay, France and Morocco. Sometimes amethyst and citrine are found growing in the same crystal, it is referred to as ametrine. An amethyst is formed. Blue quartz contains inclusions of fibrous crocidolite. Inclusions of the mineral dumortierite within quartz pieces result in silky-appearing splotches with a blue hue, shades giving off purple and/or grey colors additionally being found.
"Dumortierite quartz" will sometimes feature contrasting light and dark color zones across the material. Interest in the certain quality forms of blue quartz as a collectible gemstone arises in India and in the United States. Citrine is a variety of quartz whose color ranges from a pale yellow to brown due to ferric impurities. Natural citrines are rare. However, a heat-treated amethyst will have small lines in the crystal, as opposed to a natural citrine's cloudy or smokey appearance, it is nearly impossible to differentiate between cut citrine and yellow topaz visually, but they differ in hardness. Brazil is the leading producer of citrine, with much
Grus is an accumulation of angular, coarse-grained fragments resulting from the granular disintegration by the processes of chemical and mechanical weathering of crystalline rocks in an arid or semiarid region. Grus sand, when cemented into a sandstone, will form an arkose. Within a European context most of the saprolite mantles of Late Cenozoic age are made up grus, contrasting with Mesozoic and Early Cenozoic saprolites made up of kaolinitic and ferrallitic material. Exfoliation Saprolite – Chemically weathered rock
Igneous rock, or magmatic rock, is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava; the magma can be crust. The melting is caused by one or more of three processes: an increase in temperature, a decrease in pressure, or a change in composition. Solidification into rock occurs either below the surface as intrusive rocks or on the surface as extrusive rocks. Igneous rock may form with crystallization to form granular, crystalline rocks, or without crystallization to form natural glasses. Igneous rocks occur in a wide range of geological settings: shields, orogens, large igneous provinces, extended crust and oceanic crust. Igneous and metamorphic rocks make up 90–95% of the top 16 km of the Earth's crust by volume. Igneous rocks form about 15% of the Earth's current land surface. Most of the Earth's oceanic crust is made of igneous rock. Igneous rocks are geologically important because: their minerals and global chemistry give information about the composition of the mantle, from which some igneous rocks are extracted, the temperature and pressure conditions that allowed this extraction, and/or of other pre-existing rock that melted.
In terms of modes of occurrence, igneous rocks can be either extrusive. Intrusive igneous rocks make up the majority of igneous rocks and are formed from magma that cools and solidifies within the crust of a planet, surrounded by pre-existing rock; the mineral grains in such rocks can be identified with the naked eye. Intrusive rocks can be classified according to the shape and size of the intrusive body and its relation to the other formations into which it intrudes. Typical intrusive formations are batholiths, laccoliths and dikes; when the magma solidifies within the earth's crust, it cools forming coarse textured rocks, such as granite, gabbro, or diorite. The central cores of major mountain ranges consist of intrusive igneous rocks granite; when exposed by erosion, these cores may occupy huge areas of the Earth's surface. Intrusive igneous rocks that form at depth within the crust are termed plutonic rocks and are coarse-grained. Intrusive igneous rocks that form near the surface are termed subvolcanic or hypabyssal rocks and they are medium-grained.
Hypabyssal rocks are less common than plutonic or volcanic rocks and form dikes, laccoliths, lopoliths, or phacoliths. Extrusive igneous rocks known as volcanic rocks, are formed at the crust's surface as a result of the partial melting of rocks within the mantle and crust. Extrusive solidify quicker than intrusive igneous rocks, they are formed by the cooling of molten magma on the earth's surface. The magma, brought to the surface through fissures or volcanic eruptions, solidifies at a faster rate. Hence such rocks are smooth and fine-grained. Basalt is lava plateaus; some kinds of basalt solidify to form long polygonal columns. The Giant's Causeway in Antrim, Northern Ireland is an example; the molten rock, with or without suspended crystals and gas bubbles, is called magma. It rises; when magma reaches the surface from beneath water or air, it is called lava. Eruptions of volcanoes into air are termed subaerial, whereas those occurring underneath the ocean are termed submarine. Black smokers and mid-ocean ridge basalt are examples of submarine volcanic activity.
The volume of extrusive rock erupted annually by volcanoes varies with plate tectonic setting. Extrusive rock is produced in the following proportions: divergent boundary: 73% convergent boundary: 15% hotspot: 12%. Magma that erupts from a volcano behaves according to its viscosity, determined by temperature, crystal content and the amount of silica. High-temperature magma, most of, basaltic in composition, behaves in a manner similar to thick oil and, as it cools, treacle. Long, thin basalt flows with pahoehoe surfaces are common. Intermediate composition magma, such as andesite, tends to form cinder cones of intermingled ash and lava, may have a viscosity similar to thick, cold molasses or rubber when erupted. Felsic magma, such as rhyolite, is erupted at low temperature and is up to 10,000 times as viscous as basalt. Volcanoes with rhyolitic magma erupt explosively, rhyolitic lava flows are of limited extent and have steep margins, because the magma is so viscous. Felsic and intermediate magmas that erupt do so violently, with explosions driven by the release of dissolved gases—typically water vapour, but carbon dioxide.
Explosively erupted pyroclastic material is called tephra and includes tuff and ignimbrite. Fine volcanic ash is erupted and forms ash tuff deposits, which ca