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Water Erosion

Water erosion is just one type of erosion. Scientists define erosion as the slow removal and movement of dirt from the Earth’s crust. During water erosion, the soil’s removed by the water and carried off to a new place. For example, rivers and rain can both cause erosion. The rain won’t move dirt very far away, but rivers can carry it for miles and miles.   An image of a rushing river.
Water erosion is important because it can have an effect on us. For example, sometimes it can have a bad effect on farming. It does this by getting rid of all the best parts of the soil. It leaves behind dirt that dries out too easily. Therefore, it’s a good idea for us to understand how erosion works. 

How Does Water Cause Erosion?

Like all types of erosion, water erosion is a slow process that creates large changes over many years. Over time, the repeated movement of water can wash away soil and bring it to a new place. This can lead to huge changes in the Earth’s landscape. 

The Grand Canyon.

Erosion can create large landscape changes – like the Grand Canyon!

To imagine how this happens, try to think about the ground outside after it rains. The rain makes the soil in the ground move. This is why there are puddles or small streams on the ground. These tiny little streams carry tiny bits of dirt away, down a drain or just down the street.

An image showing puddles and mud under trees after a rainstorm.

Water washing away soil when it rains is an example of erosion.

Now, think about a really big river! All of the water in the river can move lots and lots of soil. The Grand Canyon was made by the Colorado River eroding the soil for millions of years. Just that one river dug that huge hole! It’s amazing how the force of water can make such big changes to the Earth. 
To learn more about the specific ways that water can cause erosion watch this helpful video: 

Types of Water Erosion

There are lots of different ways that water can cause erosion! Scientists have sorted them into four types:
  • Rill Erosion

  • Sheet Erosion

  • Gully Erosion

  • Splash Erosion