What is freeze-thaw weathering?

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Freeze-thaw weathering occurs in both mountain and hot desert areas. The freeze-thaw process causes the breakdown of rock material.


Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Sergio Tudela Romero

Freeze-thaw begins when water enters the cracks in bare rock. During night freezes, the frozen water expands against the rock. When temperatures rise, the ice melts and this causes more room for new water to enter. Over time, the expansion and contraction of water breaks the rock

Water Force

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Water in its liquid state has 10 perecent less volume than its frozen state.The power of freezing and thawing water literally can move mountains.

Sand from Rock

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Rain in warm temperatures fills rock spaces. Cold night freezes expand the water. Breakdown begins.

Power of Time

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Repeated cycles of freeze-thaw over long periods of time cause the change from mountain to sand material.

Breakdown of Matter

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Freeze-thaw results are identified by clean and straight breaks in rock.


Rocks, caves, sand, potholes and scree (piles of broken rock) are results of the freeze-thaw process

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