Mass wasting

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Mass wasting

Mass wasting

Everywhere on the earth's surface, gravity pulls continually downward on all materials. Bedrock is usually so strong and well supported that it remains fixed in place, but should a mountain slope become too steep through removal of rock at the base, bedrock masses break free, falling or sliding to new positions of rest. Soil and overburden, being poorly held together, are much more susceptible to gravity movements.

Taken altogether, the various kinds of downslope movements occurring under the pull of gravity, which we have collectively termed mass wasting, constitute an important process in slope wasting and denudation of the lands.

The various kinds of mass wasting (downslope movements) are:

  • Talus cones - Steep rock walls of gorges and high mountains shed countless rock particles under the attack of physical weathering processes.

  • Sell creep - On almost any moderately steep, soil-covered slope, some evidence may be found of extremely slow downslope movement of soil and overburden, a process called soil creep.

  • Earthflow - In humid climatic regions if slopes are steep, masses of water-saturated soil, overburden, or weak bedrock may slide downslope during a period of a few hours in the form of earthflow.

  • Mud flow - One of the most spectacular forms of mass wasting is the mudflow, a mud stream of fluid consistency, which pours down canyons in mountainous regions.

    Next: Water flow Mature Stage

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