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Chemical Weathering

Chemical weathering is caused by rain water reacting with the mineral grains in rocks to form new minerals (clays) and soluble salts. These reactions occur particularly when the water is slightly acidic.

Where does it occur?

These chemical processes need water, and occur more rapidly at higher temperature, so warm, damp climates are best. Chemical weathering (especially hydrolysis and oxidation) is the first stage in the production of soils.

How does it occur?

There are different types of chemical weathering, the most important are:

Solution - removal of rock in solution by acidic rainwater. In particular, limestone is weathered by rainwater containing dissolved CO2, (this process is sometimes called carbonation).

Hydrolysis - the breakdown of rock by acidic water to produce clay and soluble salts.

Oxidation - the breakdown of rock by oxygen and water, often giving iron-rich rocks a rusty-coloured weathered surface.


Malham Cove, Yorkshire

Malham Cove, Yorkshire

Find out more on 'Solution'.


Anglesey, N. Wales

Anglesey, N. Wales

Find out more on 'Hydrolysis'.
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