Weathering of Limestone

Students will identify examples of both mechanical and chemical weathering (the processes by which rocks are broken down by the actions of water, air, chemicals, and organisms) and its by-products, including sediments and soil and its products. Students will observe the effects of temperature on chemical weathering rates and observe the effects of physical weathering on chemical weathering rates by increasing surface area for chemical reactions.

Materials Needed: For each small group:

  • Goggles and other safety equipment
  • 500-ml plastic beaker or plastic cup
  • Chalk, or calcium carbonate tablets
  • Stopwatch
  • Weathering of Limestone handout (attached)
  • Hot water
  • Room-temperature water
  • Ice water
  • Various concentrations of hydrochloric acid
  • Four mortars and pestles