Erosion Facts for Kids

Erosion is a natural process where water, wind, and ice wear away and transport soil and rocks. This shapes landscapes, forming features like valleys and coastlines. Recognizing erosion helps manage its environmental impact and promotes sustainability.

Erosion is when nature such as ice, gravity, water, and even wind causes rocks and soil to break apart.  Erosion can be caused by nature or can be caused by people.

When erosion happens, it happens to the surface of the Earth and does not affect anything inside of the Earth such as the Earth’s core.

Visible Erosion Around a Tree

Erosion Facts for Kids:

  • Water, Wind, and Ice can cause Erosion
  • Water erosion happens when water moves rock or soil
  • Coastal Erosion is caused by waves especially during storms
  • Gravity impacts Erosion in indirect ways like landslides and mudslides
  • Wind Erosion happens mainly on dry flat land or sandy areas
  • Erosion comes from the word “Erosionem” which means “gnawing away.”
  • Weathering can be either chemical or mechanical.
  • When organic weathering happens, it means plants cause rocks to break because their roots and the plant acid causes the rock to dissolve.
  • Weathering means when rocks are dissolved or broken into smaller pieces.
  • When the rock is broken up by wreathing, erosion happens.
  • Mechanical weathering is when rocks are broken up and you can see the breaks.
  • Chemical weathering is when rocks begin to decay.
  • The swamplands of Louisiana happened because the Mississippi River collected rocks that were broken up by erosion.
  • When things are swept away, they do not disappear, they just move from one area to another.
  • The color of rock can tell you if chemical weathering is taking place.
  • Wetlands are sometimes created at the mouth of a river because of erosion.
  • Sediment is small particles that are broken down rock or sand.

What Causes Erosion?

Most of the energy that causes erosion happens because of the energy from the Sun.  When the Sun causes energy, it causes things to change such as ice to melt or water to evaporate and this causes things to move.

The water cycle also causes erosion.  When water evaporates and turns into clouds which cause rain, this can cause the soil to be moved and rocks to be placed in other places.

Wind and air also can create erosion.  Wind and air are the cause that soil, and dirt move.  The movement causes the rocks and soil to be placed in other places and this is part of erosion.

Water Erosion

When water erosion happens, rocks and be moved or dissolved and they can change or flake away.  Acid rain, for example, can cause rocks to begin to dissolve.  When this happens, it is called weathering.

When water flows downhill or down mountains, it can cause rock and soil to be moved and carried away.  These materials are helpful because they are holding in trees and other plants and when the water washes them away, nothing is there to hold the trees and plants in place.

Waves can also cause water erosion.  When waves rush onto land, the waves move out the rocks and the soil that is there and wash them back into the ocean or lake.

Water can move material depending on how fast and how strong the water is moving.  When water is moving very fast, it can pick up large rocks and take them far away.

When water is moving slowly, it can take small rocks and clay from the ground and move it.

Canyons are formed by water erosion.  When a river is formed, this also happens by water erosion.

Rain Erosion

Rain is a very important factor of erosion.  Heavy rain can cause splash erosion which is where the soil and rock move and cause the water to run down and flow like a tiny stream.

River Erosion

River Erosion

Rivers can also cause erosion because they cause soil and rocks to break into smaller pieces and they carry them away.  The Grand Canyon was formed by river erosion of the Colorado River.

Flood Erosion

Floods are a big part of erosion.  When floods are large, they can cause rivers to be formed and can cause the land to break apart and the water to flow through it.

Tropical Rivers

Rivers that are tropical rivers are known for carrying a lot of sediment into the sea.  Since the Nile is the longest river, it carries less sediment because it flows through areas that do not have a lot of sediment like other areas have.

The Amazon river causes the most movement of sediment.  Sometimes, the water is brown because of all of the dirt and rocks that is moved by the river.

Ice Erosion

Another form of water erosion is ice erosion.  Ice erosion can happen when there are glaciers that move downward.  When the glacier moves downward, it can pull the rock and soil with it.

Glaciers can move very large rocks because they are strong.

Ice can also cause rocks to freeze and to crack and when the rock freezes, it can eventually break into small pieces.

A natural arch produced by the wind erosion

Wind Erosion

When the wind moves pieces of rock and soil, this is wind erosion.  This kind of erosion does not happen as much as other erosion because the wind has to be very strong to move rock and soil.

Small pieces of rock or soil can be carried by the wind but most of them do not go very far.

Desert areas are known more for wind erosion because the wind carries some of the sand across the area.  Places such as the Sahara Desert are known for wind erosion because the sand is carried over the Atlantic Ocean.

The Dust Bowl is known for wind erosion.  When the Dust Bowl happens, farmers and communities can be very damaged.  The dirt that flows with the Dust Bowl can cause people breathing problems and cause farmers to lose their crops.

When particles fly through the air and break into smaller pieces this is called abrasion.

Gravity Erosion

Gravity erosion means that materials of the Earth such as soil, dirt, and rock are pulled down a hill or a mountain.  One example of gravity erosion is landslides.  Landslides cause rock, soil, and dirt to flow fast down a mountain or a piece of land.  This can cause trees and other plants to be uprooted.

Landslides can be dangerous for people that live on the mountain or people below.  Houses can be harmed from landslides and people below can be harmed by the dirt and debris that flows down the mountain.

Plate Tectonic Erosion

When plates around the world move, they can cause erosion.  The plates can move and lift up and cause rivers to be formed.

Most mountains have been formed from plate tectonic erosion because the mountains move with the upward motion of the plates beneath the surface of the Earth.

When the ground raises, this can change the way length or height of a sea and can cause the weather to be different.

Organism Erosion

Animals, insects, and worms can also cause erosion.  Worms for example, help break up the soil and when this happens, water can carry the soil away easier.

sea cliff produced by coastal erosion

Temperature Erosion

When the weather changes and gets very hot, the sun can cause rocks to crack and break.  This is called temperature erosion.

What Does Erosion Hurt?

Erosion can be very harmful to people and animals.  When soil erodes, it can cause farmers to not have soil or dirt to be able to grow their food.  If the soil or dirt is only a thin layer, farmers are not able to grow crops because crops need to be able to be in deep soil and dirt.

When erosion happens by buildings or homes, it can cause homes and buildings to break down.  When rock and soil is moved around buildings or homes, the buildings and homes can be to break or fall because the soil and rocks help to give them support.


Denudation is when weathering breaks down the land.  This is when erosion happens.  When things are broken down into smaller pieces such as rocks becoming sand, this is denudation.

How is Erosion Man Made?

People can help to cause erosion in many different areas.  When people farm, or timber, they can cause topsoil to erode.

Timbering means that someone cuts down all of the trees.  The trees help to hold the soil in place and when all of the trees are removed, the soil is no longer held down.

How Can We Stop Erosion?

People can help to stop erosion by planting trees and by moving animals so that grasslands can grow back where they were.  When we cut down grasslands or trees, it is important to plant more so that the soil can be held in place.

What Did You Learn?

  • What is erosion?
    Erosion is when things are broken down into smaller pieces.
  • What is it called when things are broken down?
    When things are broken down into smaller pieces, this is called weathering.
  • What are the two types of weathering?
    The two types of weathering are mechanical weathering and chemical weathering.  Mechanical weathering happens when rocks or buildings are physically broken down.  Chemical weathering happens when acid rain or other things cause rocks to begin to decay.
  • What is denudation?
    Denudation is when things are weathered and broken down into smaller things.
  • What are some things that erosion makes?
    Erosion can help to form canyons, creeks, and rivers as well as mountains and more!
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