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Discuss the view that geomorphological processes such as weathering, mass movement and those resulting from volcanic and earthquake activity cannot be managed but merely adapted to.

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Introduction

Discuss the view that geomorphological processes such as weathering, mass movement and those resulting from volcanic and earthquake activity cannot be managed but merely adapted to. Weathering can be divided into three categories, mechanical, chemical and biological. Each of these involve the decomposition or disintegration of rocks at the Earth's surface which occur without involving any movement or transport. Mechanical weathering breaks up the rock without any alteration to its existing mineral structure and is usually caused as a result of consistent temperature changes. The freeze-thaw process in the most common, this occurs when rocks containing cracks or fissures allow water to collect in them. The once temperatures drop below freezing, the water expands and places pressure on the rock sides. This is repeated numerous times until the rock breaks into pieces following any lines of weaknesses. While another type of mechanical weathering is "onion peeling", which is typical in hot arid environments. The heat of the sun during the day causes the outer layers of rocks to expand and they are pulled away from cooler core and then they contract during the cooler night. ...read more.

Middle

Climate also plays a major role is the rate of weathering, so areas with high rainfall and annual temperatures experience intensive rates of chemical weathering. While cold environments with consistently fluctuating temperatures above and below zero also provide good conditions for mechanical weathering. There are other smaller scale factors that affect weathering. The soil and vegetation cover may provide protection by sheltering the rock from the direct effects of weathering, while contrary plant roots may speed up the rate of mechanical weathering and the organic acids released by decaying vegetation may encourage chemical weathering. An area's relief may also be important because freeze-thaw is much more common in steep sided glaciated mountain regions in the northern hemisphere and also steepness of an area's relief can determine the speed at which the weathered material is removed and therefore exposing the new formed rock face to weathering. Although an area's vulnerability to weathering is largely due to abiotic factors, human intervention can also play a part in weathering. Increased pollution in urban areas since the industrial revolution has caused rainwater to combine with the emissions of carbon and sulphur dioxides to produce dilute solutions of carbonic and sulphuric acids. ...read more.

Conclusion

Authorities can also prepare and adapt for the effects of earthquakes by ensuring that if an earthquake does occur that they have the resources and organisation to finance the operations. So in conclusion I believe that as geomorphological processes are entirely natural there is little that humans can do to try and manage them and if they do try and attempt to it could actually cause more problems further done the line. But that is not entirely to say that humans can't do anything to reduce the magnitude and frequency of geomorphological processes, as I have previously mentioned that pollution and over-farming of areas can increase the amount of weathering in those areas and there is reason to believe that by building large structures near fault line increases the magnitude and frequency of earthquakes. So by reducing the amount of pollution, the intensity of farming and the building of large structures humans could actually help reduce geomorphological processes. But any reduction would only be a small scale one and would not cure the problem of geomorphological processes in the long-term. So as the authorities cannot manage these processes they must simply try and adapt to the problems faced with them. Stephen Stewart ...read more.

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