Did you know that the rain can move mountains?2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
All Things Science
Did you ever imagine that something as simple as the rain had the power to move mighty mountains? Scientists didn’t either and were blown away when they discovered that it could!
A team of researchers and scientists from the University of Bristol, in collaboration with those from Arizona State University and Louisiana State University, decided to conduct a study on this in the eastern and central parts of the Himalayas, which fall under Bhutan and Nepal.
There has always been a lot of debate about how rain can chisel and sculpt mountains but proving this was very complex. But for this particular research, scientists studied two things; how quickly rivers eroded the rocks that are underneath them and the impact of climate on tectonics. They found that the rain can shape mountains by making the rivers cut down rocks faster and sucking rocks out of the earth, thereby making the mountains grow.
How does this work?
When rain falls down to the earth, it hits sand grains that are on the slopes of hills. When this happens, the atoms inside those sand grains, which are now exposed to the cosmic rays, transform into a rare element. This rare element is the focus of the study, helping to determine erosion rates based on the movement of the sand grains.
So, when scientistic compare erosion rates with changes in river depth and rainfall, they can quantify how rainfall affects the erosion rates, and therefore the entire mountainous landscape.
The study goes on to prove that earth processes are also dependent on atmospheric conditions.
But isn’t erosion a bad thing?
High rates of erosion is bad. In the Himalayas, where the scientists conducted their study, high erosion rates can lead to more sedimentation, which can endanger hydropower projects. And high rainfall can cause debris flows or landslides, which could dam rivers and cause outburst floods as well!
I don’t understand how erosion works!
That’s okay. Watch this video to understand how the hydrosphere and geosphere are related.
Owliver's one-liners: How did the chicken cross the road? (H)e-rode! Get it?
(All Things Science is a weekly column that will features stories around science and astronomy)