Geological processes

Discovering Geology

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Planet Earth is dynamic with a surface that is always changing. These process are shown in the rock cycle which describes the ways in which rocks are slowly recycled over millions of years and transformed between the three rock types – sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks. Rocks can be converted into another type of rock, igneous to metamorphic for example, or into another rock of the same type.

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Wood River, Chiloquin, South Oregon.


Erosion involves the movement of rock fragments through gravity, wind, rain, rivers, oceans and glaciers.

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BGS scientist collecting samples from Mt Holt for cosmogenic dating to help determine the rate of thinning of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet since the Last Glacial Maximum.


Landforms are features on the Earth’s surface that make up the terrain.

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Henfield Brickworks Clay-pit, showing subaerial weathering.


Weathering is the wearing down or breaking of rocks while they are in place.

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Alluvial fans at Andes Mountain. Photo by Eurico Zimbres.


Deposition is the laying down of sediment carried by wind, water, or ice.

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1/4 m. SE of New Bridge, Military Road. Looking WNW.


Relief is the term used for the differences in height across the land’s surface.

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Rocks and minerals

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Climate change

Climate is the pattern of weather of an area averaged over many years. We can only show whether climate change has occurred after decades of careful measurements and analysis.

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