'I think that sedimentary stones will be more affected by weathering than igneous stones.' - discuss

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 Page                                                  H.Crawford                                     5/7/2007



‘I think that sedimentary stones will be more affected by weathering than igneous stones.’

Whilst this is what I setting out to explore and hopefully prove, I also hope to prove that the front side of the gravestones will, in general, be less weathered than the backs of the graves. I think this because most people want the front side of their grave to be less weathered and so they design the grave so that the front side will be less affected by weathering (e.g. by facing the grave east, because most of England’s weather comes from the West with the North Atlantic Drift.)

Pilot Study:

There are many reasons for my pilot study, the main one being that I wanted to check that everything worked. This included:

  • To see if there were enough stones of each type, for without enough stones of each type I would have been forced to change my hypothesis for the sample size would not have been large enough for it to have been conclusive. Fortunately there were enough.

  • Furthermore to see if there were enough stones from different dates; or, more to the point, to check there were enough stones of the two different types with similar ages; which there were just about, although I did notice that there seemed considerably more sedimentary stones in the 19th Century than in the 20th. I researched this on the web and discovered that this was because at the turn of the 20th Century granite stone was discovered as useful for making graves as it is very durable and so Granite began to replace sandstone and other such stones. This seems to be the first evidence that supports my hypothesis; people seemed to swap sedimentary for igneous stones because they thought they were more durable to weather.

  • I also checked to see if there were enough of the above two points from different areas of the graveyard, which there were indeed.

  • I also made sure that my rock grading scheme worked, which it did, but at the same time I decided to change the grade scheme so that it five grades instead of the original six. I did this because six I discovered seemed a little unnecessary as most rocks could be graded in a more simple five grade scheme, and so my scheme changed.

  • Finally to check I could identify the different rocks using both my own knowledge and my rock identification table, both of which seemed to work well.

I also discovered some things that I would need on the day:

  • Clipboard: to lean on/hold paper.
  • Paper: to write on.
  • Pen: to write with.
  • Pencil: to write with in case it rains.
  • Lens: to help identify stones.
  • Rock identification table: to identify the different rocks.
  • Rock grade scheme: to grade each rock according to its weathering.

Reasons for Studying Weathering:

I have decided to study weathering as the basis for my coursework for the following reasons:

                -   Firstly it is a powerful force that affects all parts of the world.

-   Secondly, it is, quite simply, in the syllabus and coursework is a good way to                                                                                  study weathering.

-Furthermore, it explains the existence of such things as sedimentary rocks; in other words, if there was no such thing as weathering, there would be no sedimentary stone.

- Also, if weathering didn’t exist, the Caledonian mountains in Scotland would still be as high as Mount. Everest; this gives you an idea of the vast power and importance of weathering.

Definition of Weathering:

The technical definition of weathering is that weathering is the breaking down of rocks insitu at or near the surface of the earth. It is called this because it is usually caused by the weather. Weathering can generally be split up into three main types:

  • Physical Weathering: is the splitting of rocks by stress and strain. The three main examples of physical weathering are: pressure release jointing, exfoliation and frost shattering (please see definition sheet).
  • Chemical Weathering: is the breakdown of rocks due to chemical reactions, usually involving rainwater. E.g. Calcium carbonate + Carbonic acid (formed when rainwater mixes with carbon dioxide in the air) goes to soluble calcium bicarbonate. Thus minerals in the rock are dissolved and weathered. The above effect is called carbonation (see definitions sheet).
  • Biotic Weathering: This is a mixture of chemical and physical weathering caused by animals. E.g. a tree's roots may grow into a rock and create large cracks in the rock eventually forcing it to break into pieces. In costal areas there is also another type of biotic weathering where limpets secrete acid onto rocks. This is significant because lichens do the same thing and what we must therefore decide is whether lichens do more damage to rocks than they do by protecting their surface to the weather.
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Reasons for Studying a Graveyard:

I have chosen to study a graveyard because:

                - There are all three rock types: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic.

- It is relatively easy to see the stones, whereas if I were to study a cliff, for instance, it would be hard to study the middle of the cliff.

- Also the stones are dated making it very easy to grade the stones by age and compare stones of similar ages.

- Furthermore there are different stones in different circumstances (some in shelter), meaning I can have a wide range of data because they ...

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