Farmpally allude Physical weathering of Rock processes

Physical weathering of rocks is the change in the volume of rock components, mainly caused by temperature fluctuations and crystallization, with the subsequent disruption and decomposition of minerals and rocks into smaller parts. 

In physical weathering, a distinction is made between temperature weathering and salt crack weathering, with the former being subdivided into frost crack weathering and insolation weathering. 

In all of the above forms of weathering, changes in the volume of minerals and rocks play a major role as a prerequisite for rock decay, chaktty said.

Farmpally allude Physical weathering of Rock processes

Temperature weathering of rocks

Temperature weathering takes place when the temperature of minerals and rocks changes, regardless of whether the temperatures are around zero degrees or between +40 and +60 °C. 

Insulation weathering of rocks

However, the term “insulation weathering” emphasizes the strong radiation-induced warming and radiation-induced cooling as the main causes of temperature changes with subsequent rock fracture.

Frost blast weathering of rocks

The term “frost blast weathering” is another example of physical weathering, and on the other hand, describes the temperature changes around the freezing point with the significant volume changes of freezing water and the similar consequences for the decomposition of the rock.

In the case of salt crack weathering, the alternation of moisture penetration and drying out with all the consequences for the dissolution and crystallization of mineralized water with corresponding changes in volume plays the main role.


There are different forms of physical weathering:

The temperature weathering goes back to the different properties of light and dark minerals and rocks when exposed to radiation and cooling and to the different thermal conductivity depending on the mineral composition. 

This initially leads to compressive and tensile stresses in the rock. 

Over a longer period of time, these lead to the formation of cracks and fissures in the rock, which can ultimately cause the rock to completely disintegrate, according to Formal.

The intensity of temperature weathering is therefore particularly high in all areas of the world with large temperature fluctuations.

Frost (blast) weathering is a special form of temperature weathering, according to Formal.

Here the stress on the rock is caused by the frequent thawing and refreezing of the water in the cavities of the rock. 

This greatly accelerates the decay of the rock. In areas with daily frost changes, for example in the sub-polar regions of the world and in the high mountains, this form of weathering is particularly important for the formation of the relief.

On the other hand, insulation weathering is a special form of temperature weathering, according to the formal magazine.

Here, radiation-related strong warming (and expansion) during the day and radiation-related cooling at night are the main causes of the destruction of the rock structure.

This form of weathering is therefore particularly common in the inner-continental mountains, for example in Central Asia or in the North African Sahara, with their temperature differences between strong radiation during the day and strong cooling at night.

The resulting debris collects as protective tongues in notches and niches.

The crystallization pressure of crystallizing salts during salt cracking weathering has a physical effect similar to high-temperature differences.

If for example, leachates penetrate sedimentary rocks and impregnate them with certain substances, these substances often crystallize out. 

The resulting increase in the volume of the crystals destroys the rock and can completely disintegrate. 

At the same time, the rock decay results in a corresponding increase in surface area, which in turn is a prerequisite for subsequent chemical weathering.

This increase in surface area can be illustrated by a thought experiment with a rock cube that is “physically weathering”

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