How does earth's surface change quickly?

1 Answer
Mar 2, 2016


Most geological process act very slowly in shaping the surface of the earth, however, there are sudden events that result in rapid change.


Some process that change the surface of the Earth quite rapidly include:

1) major asteroid or comet impact, like the one that killed the dinosaurs had a huge immediate impact on the entire planet.

2) volcanic eruptions and earthquakes result from plate tectonic activity that reaches some tipping point and things change rapidly - at least in a local sense.

3) Heavy rainfalls and monsoons can cause catastrophic changes to the land through slumps, flooding of urban/rural areas and mud slides. Rock landslides also happen suddenly - not always due to heavy rain - and these to can change the local surface rapidly.

4) hurricanes and tornados produce significant changes to the land, though ecosystems and human settlements tend to bounce back in a decade or less.

Some human processes include:

1) fear of a global nuclear war that would contaminate the atmosphere and change the land for centuries - although this possibility seems to be getting less likely.

2) global climate change events, such as rapid and unexpected melting of Greenland or Antarctica ice sheets could produce a relatively rapid (decades perhaps) alteration of coastal areas.