U.S. Highway 89 Bryce Canyon to Grand Canyon
Road damage south of Page, Arizona will impact travel between Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks. Click for a travel advisory and link to a map with suggested alternate routes: More »
Sunset Campground Construction
From April-July 2014, three new restroom facilities will be constructed in Sunset Campground. Visitors may experience construction noise and dust, as well as some campsite and restroom closures. 'Sunset Campground' webpage has additional information. More »
Bryce Point to Peekaboo Connector Trail Closure
Due to a large rockslide, the connecting trail from Bryce Point to Peekaboo Loop is closed. Trail will be reopened once repairs are made. The Peekaboo Loop is open, but must be accessed from Sunset or Sunrise Point.
Wall Street Section of Navajo Loop Closed
Due to dangerous conditions (falling rock and treacherous, icy switchbacks), the Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop Trail is CLOSED. It will reopen in Spring once freezing temperatures have subsided.
Backcountry Campsite Closures
Due to bear activity at select campsites in Bryce Canyon's backcountry, two backcountry campsites have been closed until further notice: Sheep Creek and Iron Spring.
Activity 11: Water Erosion
WATER, MOTHER NATURE'S CHISEL
Many landforms on Earth are the result of erosion and weathering. This activity consists of a series of smaller activities used to better illustrate the physical and chemical forces that create landforms.
To teach students about different types of water erosion.
Students will be able to:
Set up: 45 min.
Rocks break down from large pieces to smaller pieces by physical and chemical processes. When these processes change the size of rock pieces from large to small in place it is called weathering. When rock pieces are broken down and transported, it is called erosion.
Physical weathering and erosion occurs when a large piece of rock is broken into smaller pieces without changing the rock composition. An example of physical change is when you hit a rock with a hammer and it breaks into pieces. The pieces are still the same rock type, but the size has changed.
Chemical weathering and erosion occurs when rock is changed into smaller pieces by chemical reactions. Resulting rock is not the same as the original. For example, if acid is poured on chalk (CaCO3) it will fizz. Gases (CO2) are given off and the remaining rock piece is calcium (CaO). The chalk composition changes due to the chemical reaction. The rock had changed to a different chemical composition. The chalk has changed size and composition.
Processes that affect landforms are gravity, glaciers, wind, and water. This activity will discuss water processes only. Wind and ice will be discussed in a separate activity.
As water seeps into cracks, it enlarges them by washing pieces away and/or chemically dissolving the rock. A determining factor on how quickly rock will erode by water is the rock type. Harder rock, such as quartzite, takes longer to dissolve than softer rock, like mudstone. Quartz pieces are more likely to be transported than dissolved. Mudstone pieces can be transported but usually dissolve much faster during transportation. Water erodes rock easily when impacting the carried rock with stream bed rock. The broken rock pieces continue to flow and impact down stream. This is why river rock is rounded and smooth.
Rain splash is another form of erosion that results from water. When rain hits the ground, it acts like tiny bombs dropped from space. Each impact pushes small sand sized or dust sized particles down slope. When it rains, this happens billions of times. Even though the particles move millimeters an impact, over one rainstorm a single particle may have moved a few centimeters.
Stream action erosion
Rain splash and water erosion
Dissolving of solids
Dissolving of solids
Have students research National Park Service Sites to find examples of each of these processes. Have them present their findings to the class and defend their position as to why each NPS site presented is a good example.
Included National Parks and other sites:
Utah Science Core:
2nd Grade Standard 6 Objective 1, 2, 3
Did You Know?
Stargazers have been coming to Bryce Canyon for centuries. The first "formal" star gazing programs began in 1969. Read "A Brief History..." by clicking the "more" link below. More...