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Erosion is the process in which the surface of the Earth is worn down by water, wind, or any other form of natural occurrence. Erosion is natural and has been happening on Earth since forever, but human activity is also a reason as to why erosion occurs. It has become a significant problem all over the world. Humans have found ways to slow down the erosion process through numerous different techniques.

A brief overview on erosion

Erosion can occur simply from a slight breeze pushing soil from the ground or even from raindrops that fall from the sky. The three main types of erosion are wind erosion, soil erosion, and water erosion. Each type of erosion has an impact on Earth that can lead to serious repercussions.

Soil erosion

All around the world, it is said that soil is being swept away ten to forty times faster than it is being replenished. [1]. Many people may think that it is just dirt, but it is so much more. Soil allows for agriculture, which is what most countries need to survive. As soil erodes, the resources needed for food and other agriculture products starts to diminish. Statistics show that about sixty percent of soil is either blown away by wind or washed away by water, thus reducing the ability for plant growth and therefore is unable to support biodiversity. [2].

Wind erosion

Wind erosion is naturally occurring at accelerated rates. Strongest on flat and drier/sandier, less vegetated areas, wind carries even the lightest particle of soil or sand to another place on the surface of the Earth. Even with vegetation, wind tends to be so strong that it carries particles away from the Earth’s surface. Wind erosion can cause damage to ecosystems and biodiversity loss. [3].

Water erosion

There are several types of water-caused erosion such as sheet, rill, and gully, which are all interrelated. In the process of sheet erosion, flowing water over the surface of the Earth detaches the soil and then transports its particles into thin layers. Rill erosion is similar, but instead, the flow of this water form small channels or grooves (known as rills) which eventually progresses and carries even larger amounts of soil away from Earth’s surface. Sometimes, underground tunnels are formed by the erosion of the surface soil, thus forming deep gullies. Water is a powerful resource that causes great amounts of erosion in places all over the Earth. [4]

Other types of erosion

An enormous amount of sand swept back into the ocean leaves the beach with a dangerously steep drop.

Beach erosion

Storms and hurricanes that form off of the coasts tend to cause a great amount of beach erosion. Beaches usually will have vegetation because the forces of water and wind are so great in these areas that without vegetation, the beaches may completely wash away. [5]. The power of the currents and persistence of the crashing waves resulted in erosion of the beaches because it carries huge amounts sand back out into the ocean and cannot be restored. Even when there may not be a storm, extremely strong currents effect sand erosion because strong waves constantly pull sand out and eat away at the coast.

Human erosion

Erosion has been occurring far before humans existed, however, many believe that the rate at which erosion occurs is increasing because of human activity. Unfortunately, humans are constantly causing erosion in ways that we may not even know. Most of the blame goes towards the developing world. Technological advances, human induced fires, deforestation, and domesticating plants and animals all contribute to erosion. [6] Mining has also been seen as a major cause of erosion for hundreds of years. When we disturb the Earth for our own benefit, such as for construction, gardening, and so much more, we weaken the topsoil of the Earth, therefore leads to erosion.

Erosion control

Vegetation helps to reduce sand erosion because the plants absorb the water and wind.

While erosion seems uncontrollable because of nature’s forces and constant human activity, it actually can be monitored. Soil erosion can be controlled through vegetation and cover crops. Cover crops [7] are an old technique used usually by farmers. They are non-commerical crops that are planted in between harvests so that soil erosion is less likely. The practice of cover crops is older than the Roman poet Virgil but in recent decades, had lost its popularity. However, cover crops such as the Hairy Vetch, clovers, rye, oats, and alfalfa are much more beneficial than using commercial fertilizers. The benefits of cover crops reduce water runoff, improve soil nutrients, and much more. Cover crops and vegetation can be used to lessen the effects of soil, water, wind, and beach erosion.

See also

Other closely related articles in this wiki include:


  1. Cornell University. (2006, March 23). Soil Erosion Threatens Environment And Human Health, Study Reports. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from Science Daily
  2. Cornell University. (2006, March 23). Soil Erosion Threatens Environment And Human Health, Study Reports. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from Science Daily
  3. Whitaker, M. D. (2008). Erosion (V. Parrillo, Ed.). Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library
  4. Marshall, K. (2014). Soil Conservation (K. Lemer & B. Lemer, Eds.). Retrieved from [1]Gale Virtual Reference Library
  5. Beach, T. (2005). Erosion (W. McNeill, J. Bently, & D. Christian, Eds.). Retrieved from[2]Gale Virtual Reference Library.
  6. Beach, T. (2005). Erosion (W. McNeill, J. Bently, & D. Christian, Eds.). Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library
  7. MacDonald, J. (2016, March 22). Cover Crops Are Making a Comeback. Retrieved from Jstor Daily

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