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To what extent are natural processes and human activity responsible for the lowering of the interfluves at the present time in upland areas of Great Britain?

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Introduction

To what extent are natural processes and human activity responsible for the lowering of the interfluves at the present time in upland areas of Great Britain? Interfluves are areas of land between two adjacent rivers. There are three main natural processes that are responsible for the lowering of the interfluves. These are weathering, mass movement and erosion. Weathering is the disintegration and decomposition of rock in its original position by the combined actions of the weather, plants and animals. Weathering is different from erosion, which usually includes the transportation of the disintegrated rock and soil away from the site. There are two different forms of weathering, physical and chemical. * Physical weathering: These are the processes that lead to the break-up of the rock without any change in the minerals that form the rock. This occurs through mechanical processes such as expansion and contraction mainly due to temperature change. Two such types of physical weathering are freeze thaw weathering and biological weathering. Freeze thaw weathering occurs when crevices and joints in rock, that are bare and free from vegetation, fill with water. During the night, this water freezes, expanding by 9% and exerting great pressure on the surrounding rock. The alternating freeze-thaw processes weaken the joints, and cause pieces of the rock to be broken off. ...read more.

Middle

Vegetation removal and consequent lower water use may increase soil water levels causing an increase in pore water pressure within the soil profile and therefore an increased likelihood of soil creep. Figure The effects of soil creep * Earth flows occur on slopes of 5-15? when the soil becomes saturated and therefore increases its weight and begins to flow downwards at speeds less than 15km per year taking any debris with it. * Landslides are the movement of large masses of rock and land. Rocks, which have bedding planes roughly parallel to the angle of the slope, are more susceptible to landslides. Landslides are common in many costal areas and are less likely to occur in upland Britain so they are not a physical activity that plays much part in the lowering of interfluves. The climate, rock structure and the type of soil all have large influences on mass movement. * The effect of climate: Heavy rain adds volume and mass to the soil, heavy rain occurs more in upland Britain than low land Britain and is therefore one of the main factors contributing to mass movement. Heavy rain also increases the erosive power of the rivers at the base of the interfluves and therefore removes more material and makes the slope less stable and more susceptible to mass movement. ...read more.

Conclusion

* By building on the slopes of the interfluves it adds weight to them and therefore can increase the process of mass movement. When roads are built on the interfluves heavy traffic can cause vibrations that will weaken the slope and result in mass movement of the loosened debris. * Tourism also has a large effect on lowering interfluves in upland Britain. If causes soil erosion by tourists walking on the land. Car parks, roads and footpaths are built in tourist areas, these all contribute to the physical activities of mass movement, weathering and erosion. For example vegetation is removes to build such things leaving it uncovered, which increases the likelihood of weathering occurring. Natural processes and human activity are both responsible for the lowering of interfluves in upland Britain to an average extent. All three physical processes, weathering, erosion and mass movement work together in a continuous cycle which all contribute to the lowering of interfluves. Each process has a knock on effect making the other one more effective. Human activity probably has a larger effect on the lowering of interfluves in upland Britain, as it enhances the possibility of natural processes occurring, therefore if these human activities talked about above did not occur then the natural processes would take place at a slower rate. ...read more.

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