Difference Between Abrasion and Attrition (With Table)

Difference Between Abrasion and Attrition (With Table)

In the study of geology, the phrases abrasion and attrition are employed. They’re procedures that have something to do with the incidence of surface damage. They can be viewed as many types of erosion. On the other hand, these terms are almost unheard of in regular conversation. As a result, it may be difficult to tell them apart.

Abrasion vs Attrition

The main difference between Abrasion and Attrition is that Attrition is faster than abrasion. Erosion is a similar process in both cases. However, the contributing causes and outcomes are different. Abrasion is a kind of erosion in which the substance being carried gradually wears away at a surface.

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Abrasion is defined as friction between two or more surfaces caused by scratching, rubbing, scuffing, and marring. It might be a deliberate, well-controlled procedure or a wholly unwelcome one brought on by exposure to harmful chemicals. The method may be used in a variety of sectors.

Meanwhile, attrition happens when two surfaces collide, causing erosion. When opposed to abrasion, it is a much speedier procedure that does not involve any friction. The surfaces that are engaged are subjected to a great deal of wear and tear due to attrition. Coastal areas are the most prevalent sites for this activity.

Comparison Table Between Abrasion and Attrition

Parameters of comparisonAbrasionAttrition
MeaningIn the case of sediment movement, abrasion refers to the wearing or disintegration of particle surfaces.The term “attrition” refers to the process of reducing or winnowing all of the particles.
LocationWhen one rock collides with another, it causes abrasion.When a rock or stone is swept downstream, it breaks into smaller shards.
Process rateTime taken processQuick process
Factors affectingIt is influenced by density, velocity, weight and texture.It is influenced by the surface’s form, size, hardness, fractures, and porosity.
CausesFriction between moving surfaces causes it to form.The clash of surfaces causes it.

What is Abrasion?

Abrasion is a form of wear and tear on surfaces that occurs when they are in motion. The word “erosion” is used to characterize this process. It’s a slow and inefficient procedure that takes a long time. Abrasion occurs when two surfaces scrape, wear down, scruff, or rub together.

Several factors influence the degree to which two surfaces are abraded. The density, weight, velocity, and roughness of the surface’s materials are only a few. Abrasion occurs quicker when the materials are lightweight and loosely connected. If the materials are hefty, stiff, and tightly packed, abrasion takes a long time.

Abrasion can impact one or more surfaces. The construction sector occasionally performs the technique in a planned and regulated manner. Wind abrasion, coastal abrasion, glacial, and channel transfer are the four basic categories in which they occur naturally. When the wind carries little stones and sand, they scrape against surfaces. Objects moving through water cause abrasion on the coast. Ice pushes on rock surfaces, causing glaciation. Finally, things travel through river channels, causing channel transfer.

What is Attrition?

Attrition is a natural phenomenon that occurs in locations where there are water bodies. It should not, however, be confused with coastal abrasion. When two surfaces collide, attrition occurs, causing them to shatter or wear down. In contrast to attrition, the process occurs swiftly. There isn’t any friction here.

 The attrition process in riverbeds is a good illustration of this. A range of hard sediments make up the surface at the river’s bottom. When moving with the movement of water, other hard materials, on the other hand, commonly impact the bottom surface. There is a certain degree of harm that occurs when this happens.

Several factors determine the extent of the damage. For example, if a rock already had cracks and another rock was impacted, the damage would be far more severe. However, if a soft item collided with the same rock, the damage would be minimal. Regardless, individuals have devised a slew of techniques to keep this process under control. A seawall is one of them. All solid things running through water are filtered out at an early stage as a result of this.

Main Differences Between Abrasion and Attrition

  1. Abrasion is mostly generated by friction between moving surfaces, whereas attrition is primarily caused by collisions between moving surfaces.
  2. Abrasion occurs in several sites where rocks and other sediments are present, whereas attrition occurs mostly near water sources.
  3. Abrasion occurs when sediment is transported, whereas attrition occurs when particles are reduced during erosion.
  4. The surface materials’ density, weight, velocity, and texture influence abrasion, whereas the surface’s form, size, hardness, fractures, and porosity affect attrition.
  5. Surface abrasion takes a lengthy time to occur, whereas attrition occurs quickly.


Erosive processes include abrasion and attrition. They do, however, contain minor distinctions. Abrasion is created by friction between two moving surfaces, which is the most remarkable. Attrition, on the other hand, occurs when two surfaces meet and inflict damage on one another.

The time it takes for each method to yield results is different. Abrasion, on the other hand, happens considerably more slowly. It takes a long time for the damage caused by it to become visible. Attrition, on the other hand, occurs rapidly. Almost quickly, the damage may be observed. Furthermore, abrasion occurs in various locations, whereas attrition occurs mostly in bodies of water.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1834-7819.1998.tb00190.x
  2. https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/qjegh/article/7/1/69/327216


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