Salt Water vs. Fresh Water Erosion
Country: United States
Date: October 2, 2005
I am researching different things that cause erosion and
am specifically looking at the effects of saltwater on erosion. Does
saltwater cause erosion in a way that is different from fresh water?
am not looking for information on intrusion, just erosion. I am
wondering if the process is too slow for anyone to notice it or
Erosion is not a simple process to model. In addition to the flow rate of
water, the chemical composition of the soil/rock comes into play. The pH
and ionic strength play a role, but whether these factors increase or
decrease the process depends upon the composition of the soil/rock. The
granular structure of the soil/rock is important and is mineral-dependent.
Some minerals are "compacted" by water making them more difficult to
further erosion; others are "loosened" making them easier to further
erosion. The vegetation (or lack of/ type) also has an important effect.
So just how hardy the plant life is in fresh vs. brackish vs. salt water
is a major factor. Erosion is also a function of the flow rate of the
water and this effect is not linear. For example, erosion may be
negligible for flow rates up to a certain critical value and then becomes
very rapid and non-linear. This can result in a "land slide" which is the
ultimate erosion process. The chemical interaction of the soil and water
plays a role -- that is, certain minerals in the soil may be soluble in
the water resulting in chemical breakdown of the soil. In short, erosion
is a very complicated phenomenon to model, and extract the effect of fresh
water vs. salt water from all the other interacting variables.
When it comes to this kinds of things I always try to reword the question
so that I can better answer it. First of all, what is the main difference
between salt and fresh water? Once you answer that, then the question
becomes, is the difference quantitatively large enough so that you can
expect a different form of erosion. Finally, since you want to discount
intrusion (which I take to mean that you want to discount physical
activity of the body of water as opposed to the quality -salt or fresh- of
the water) as a factor in erosion, then that really limits you to whether
the main components of land mass is more soluble or easily mixed in salt
or fresh water. I think, you can take it from there.
Greg (Roberto Gregorius)
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