Freeze-Thaw Weathering science experiment : Fizzics Education

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Freeze-Thaw Weathering

Freeze-Thaw Weathering

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

Cheap pavement chalk

Coldwater in a bowl

Hot water in a bowl and tongs

Freezer and a plastic bag

Patience!

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Freeze thaw weathering science experiment - materials needed
1 Freeze thaw weathering science experiment - adding chalk to water

Snap a chalk piece in half.

2 Freeze thaw weathering science experiment - bubbles escaping the chalk

Soak the chalk piece in water until no more air bubbles rise from the chalk – as a precaution, move the chalk around to shake loose any surface air bubbles clinging to the side of the chalk.

3 Freeze thaw weathering science experiment - chalk in plastic bag

Remove the chalk from the water and place the chalk into the plastic bag.

4 Freeze thaw weathering science experiment - chalk in a freezer

Place the plastic bag in the freezer and wait 6 hours.

5 Freeze thaw weathering science experiment - pouring hot water over chalk

Pour hot water into a bowl and place the now frozen chalk into it. Place the chalk into a hot oven, dry would be better as the thermal change would be greater. If you do use an oven, you will need to re-soak the chalk again.

6 Freeze thaw weathering science experiment - fractured chalk

Repeat steps 2 to 4 until the chalk breaks.

7 A television screen showing a distance educator running science experiment with a bell jar, vacuum pump and a cup of water. There is an inset of a remote class on the screen and a video conference camera on top of the television.
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Why Does This Happen?

Freeze-thaw weathering is common in mountainous areas where the temperature is around freezing point. This type of weathering is caused by the expansion and contraction of water within porous rocks. As ice crystals form, they grow larger, attracting liquid water from the surrounding pores. The ice crystal growth weakens the rocks which can then crack, exfoliate or shatter with the stresses imposed.

Chalk is a quite porous material, containing numerous air pockets. Soaking the chalk replaced the air with water, setting up a situation where the chalk could be broken by rapidly changing the temperature of the materials.

Variables to test

More on variables here

  • Try chalk blocks vs smaller chalk. Does this make a difference?
  • What happens if you repeatedly cool the chalk with dry ice and then reheat with boiling water?

Learn More

From the rock cycle to volcano formation, we’ve got your geology unit covered!
Get in touch with FizzicsEd to find out how we can work with your class.

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