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Mechanical Weathering

Mechanical weathering breaks down rocks and minerals without changing their chemical composition; for example, by ice wedging.

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Hickory Run Boulder Field

Hickory Run Boulder Field


Credit: loppear
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24062889@N00/8859347460
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

It’s not something you see every day: a field of boulders spanning 16.5 acres (6.7 ha). How they got there is a tale involving ice, water, rock, frozen soil and gravity.

Amazing But True!

  • The jumble of boulders is loosely packed.
  • Most are fairly small, less than 4-feet in diameter, but some are 25-feet long.
  • The rock in the northern half of the field is red sandstone and in the southern portion is red conglomerate with white quartz pebbles.
  • The rocks are fractured in a block-like pattern; they are rounded at the west end and angular boulders towards the east.

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With the links below, learn more about the Hickory Run Boulder Field. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What features in the sandstone allowed it to break apart?
  2. How did water cause the rock to break up?
  3. How did the rocks move?
  4. Did mechanical weathering, chemical weathering or both play a major role in creating the boulder field?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: loppear; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24062889@N00/8859347460; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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