2017 Volume 126 Issue 4 Pages 455-471
It is difficult to estimate weathering rates of rocks based on actual landforms. However, using stone-built architectures, artifacts, and traces of human activity on rock surfaces, weathering rates of rocks under weathering-limited conditions can be obtained easily because stone-built heritages, in general, have a geometrical shape and zero-datum levels. In addition, it is possible to estimate weathering rates of a millennium-scale and changes of rates up to a millennium scale. Many studies on weathering rates of rocks use stone-built heritages. This study reviews recent geomorphological studies that estimate weathering rates, and summarizes their trends. Most of the studies analyze gravestones and churches built since the 19th and 11th centuries, respectively. Such stone-built heritages are more commonly located in humid temperate areas. Weathering rates are estimated mainly from surface recession or surface loss of gravestones and church-building stones. The major three building stones—carbonate rocks (rate: 2-90 mm/ka), sandstone (8-100 mm/ka), and granite (5-65 mm/ka)—have different ranges of weathering rates. Among these stones, the rates for carbonate rocks are sensitive to climatic conditions and atmospheric sulfur dioxide concentrations. The results of the studies reveal that weathering rates show an obvious dependence on aspects. North-facing surfaces tend to have lower rates than surfaces facing other cardinal directions because each surface has different temperature and moisture conditions due to insolation. Moreover, the studies reveal that temporal changes in weathering rates rarely fit a simple linear model. Changes in atmospheric acidity, landform development, and vegetation cover rapidly affect the intensity of weathering processes and cause fluctuations in weathering rates.