Weathered limestone

Weathered limestone

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Credit: DIRK WIERSMA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Weathered limestone. Repeated freezing and thawing of water has caused this limestone cliff to be weathered along the bedding planes of the rock. The process, known as freeze-thaw action, occurs when water freezes in the cracks between solid rocks. It causes 9% enlargment of the fissures because water expands as it freezes. Repeated freezing and thawing eventually weakens the rock so much that it splits and a piece falls off. This final stage in the weathering process is called frost-splitting or congelifraction. The weathered rock collects beneath rock faces such as this in scree slopes (not seen). Photographed in the Dachstein Massif in the Austrian Alps.

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Keywords: alps, austria, austrian, cliff, congelifraction, die hohe dachstein, freeze, freeze-thaw, frost, geology, geomorphology, limestone, massif, mechanical, mountain, rock, rockface, stone, thaw, weathered, weathering

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