Erosion Lesson for Kids: Definition, Facts & Types

Instructor: Alexandra Carpenter

Alexandra has an MA in English and a BA in history and film studies.

Did you know that some landforms get created by a destructive process? In this lesson you will learn how erosion affects the surface of the Earth through different forces.

What is Erosion?

If you were to take a picture of the same spot in a sand desert again and again for months, you'd observe that it changes appearance very often. In fact, if you showed one picture after another, you could create a really cool time lapse photography slideshow!

Deserts with sand are constantly changing because wind blows the small granules of the sand around, causing the dunes, or hills, to be reshaped.

Sand dunes and other landforms are affected by a destructive process called erosion. Erosion is the process of breaking down and carrying away sand or other land debris through various powerful forces, mainly wind, water and ice.

Wind and Water Erosion

Wind Erosion

Wind not only affects the landscape in places like the desert, but in rocky places as well. Rocks exposed to wind and other natural forces break apart, a process called 'weathering.' These broken pieces of rock are what get carried away through erosion.

Strong winds can be powerful enough to turn an uneven rock surface into a smooth, shiny sheet-like surface. Ventifacts are rocks that have been polished and smoothed by wind erosion.

Water Erosion

Just like wind, water can cause erosion in different ways. When rain falls on the ground, it can pick up small particles of land and carry them away, but large amounts of rainfall can cause floods, which create sudden changes to land.

However, sometimes water erodes surfaces over a long period of time. The Colorado River has worn down the rock of the Grand Canyon over millions of years, creating striking v-shaped valleys. When ocean waves crash against shorelines, they carry away pieces of sand and rock, forming the jagged cliffs found beside some beaches.

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