The definition of erosion, according to National Geographic, is “the act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice.” This description is apt, but only begins to describe the many things that can cause the ground, road, or other surfaces to begin to wear away. Learning more about the causes of erosion and how it affects us is important as it will help you better understand the methods available for dealing with erosion as well as choosing which of those methods is best for your particular situation.
What Causes Erosion?
A number of different things can cause erosion. Both natural and artificial elements can come together to cause this phenomenon. The Grand Canyon is a prime example of “water erosion” at work. This huge canyon was created over millions of years due to the slow, steady movement of water. Ice is another major cause of erosion. Other natural causes of erosion include wind, sand and tectonic plate movement. It is important to note that artificial elements and combinations of artificial and natural elements can cause erosion too. Deforestation, over farming and overgrazing are examples of these combinations of artificial and natural elements working together to create erosion—these issues were major triggers of “The Dust Bowl” that plagued the United States in the 1930s.
How Does Erosion Affect Us?
Erosion affects us in dozens of ways. Some of the most notable include:
- Landslides – These dangerous and damaging issues are caused by erosion
- Foundation Issues – When a home’s foundation “settles” or cracks, often these issues are caused or made worse by erosion
- Road Erosion – Many major road issues (such as potholes) are caused partially or made worse due to erosion
- Farming – Farming methods must constantly change to keep up with erosion and to avoid major disasters like the Dust Bowl incident
- Expenses – Towns and states must constantly spend to keep up with erosion, both on the road and throughout natural areas
These issues are only the beginning. It is interesting to note that nearly every industry is touched by erosion in some way, shape, or form. Erosion is an “equal opportunity” issue.
What Are Some of the Best Methods for Dealing With Erosion?
Dealing with erosion is a tough job. Since it has been a problem for thousands of years, it only makes sense that there are dozens of different ways that to deal with it. Some of the most common methods are actually the same ones that people have used for hundreds of years. Each option may be more or less successful depending on the particular geography and topography of the area. A couple high-tech options include:
- Presto Geoweb – This is a “geocell cellular confinement system”. This method helps keep dirt and loose soil in place, potentially preventing landslides and other serious effects of erosion.
- Tensar Geogrid – A similar product, this is also designed to stabilize the ground and prevent erosion. The main difference with this product is that it is developed for heavily trafficked surfaces, so that it can be used in places where people travel.
While it is nearly impossible to prevent all erosion, the best thing is to know what erosion issues you may be most likely to face and have methods in place for dealing with them. Realize that erosion is a problem that humans have been facing for thousands of years, so it is not something that can be completely solved overnight. Stay proactive and you will put yourself in the best possible place for preventing and dealing with erosion.