University of Edinburgh

BSL Geography Glossary - Abrasion (rivers) - definition

Definition: Abrasion is a process of erosion which can happen in four different ways.

The first type of abrasion is caused by ice or glaciation. As a glacier moves, it erodes away at the land surrounding the ice. This is a slow process.

The second type of abrasion is caused by rivers. Flowing water hits the channel walls and causes erosion. Pebbles or stones in the river also cause erosion when they hit the channel walls.

The third type of abrasion is through the action of waves. As waves break on the shore, the water, stones and the energy of the waves cause erosion.

The final type of abrasion is caused by wind. The wind can transport sand and small stones, blowing them strongly against rocks and land. Over time, this causes erosion as you can see in the picture