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Name: Colbert
Status: Student
Grade: 9-12
Location: N/A
Country: Israel
Date: March 2009


Question:
Will dolomite or sandstone hold up better to weathering in an arid desert environment?



Replies:
It fully depends upon the sandstone.

Dolomite usually weathers chemically and that requires water. Chemical erosion in a desert is limited. Both rocks will, however be subject to mechanical weathering. This includes: abrasion from blowing dust and sand as well as thermal weathering - the heating and cooling of rock that happens when rocks heat up in the sun cool and then cool to much lower temperatures in the desert night. The rock expands and shrinks at the surface and the surface eventually flakes off.

Sandstone's resistance to physical onslaught depends upon what is holding the grains of the rock together. You can find sandstones that have so little holding the grains together that you can crush it with your bare hands. That rock will not do well against physical weathering. If the grains are held together (cemented) by limestone or, better yet, silica (quartz), they could be very resistant to weathering in a desert environment.

Robert Avakian



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