Toy, T. J. Department of Geography, University of Denver, Denver, Colorado.
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Erosion is the result of processes that entrain and transport earth materials along coastlines, in streams, and on hillslopes. Wind and water are common agents through which forces are applied to resistant rocks, soils, or other unconsolidated materials. Erosion types often are designated on the basis of the agent: wind erosion, fluvial erosion, and glacial erosion. Fluvial erosion usually has been regarded as the most effective type in shaping the land surface during recent geologic time. Under certain environmental conditions, however, wind erosion moves considerable quantities of earth materials, as demonstrated during the “dust bowl” years in the United States. Glacial erosion shaped much of the land surface during the Quaternary Period of geologic time. Each type of erosion produces distinctive landforms, contributing to the diversity of terrestrial landscapes. See also: Eolian landforms; Geomorphology; Glaciology; Mass wasting; Quaternary; Stream transport and deposition
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