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Gravity is an agent of erosion. Rocks break apart only when a force makes them do so. Gravity is one force that helps break rocks down into smaller pieces. This never ending force works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It has done so for millions and millions of years.

Water running down all the mountains and valleys is pulled down by this force of gravity. Wind is ultimately a result of air molecules being held to the Earth's surface due to gravity. Water, wind, and ice, working under the influence of gravity, are the greatest sources of erosion on the Earth's surface. The effects of gravity, combined with wind, water, and ice, create many types of geologic features. Many of these geologic features are so unique and beautiful that they have been given status as State or National Parks. Look closely at some examples of erosion:

 
Water Erosion
Wind Erosion
   
Ice Erosion
Land Erosion

 

Analysis:

  1. In what ways is the erosion of all four photographs similar?
  2. Can only one form of erosion be responsible for any of the above photographs?
    • How many of the forms of erosion would you say are responsible for each of the photographs above?
  3. How many of these areas do you recognize as places you’ve visited here in Utah?
    • Utah is home to various locations that show great evidence of the influence of gravity on erosion. Look for your own examples as you travel this great state.
 
Extension:
You are on a mission! Your job is to research and report on a catastrophe that has taken place in the history of the earth. Find a time when a natural disaster involving erosion and gravity affected a number of people. Discuss the role of gravity and how it changed the Earth’s surface during the catastrophe. Include published evidence of the incident and how it affected the people involved. Your paper should be one page typed.

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Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 8th grade science core.


Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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