Difference Between Abrasion and Attrition (With Table)

The terms abrasion and attrition are frequently used interchangeably when it comes to geology. The processes involved are mostly those associated with surface damage, and they might be thought of as several types of erosive processes. On the other hand, these terms are nearly unheard of in everyday talks.

Abrasion vs Attrition

The main difference between Abrasion and Attrition is that abrasion is a much more rapid process primarily caused by the rubbing of two surfaces together. In contrast, attrition is a relatively quick process caused when characters collide. In many ways, erosion and evaporation are the same things, and the influencing variables and outcomes, on the other hand, are quite different.

An abrasion occurs when two and more surfaces rub against one another, scuff, or mar together, all of which causes friction. There are two types of processes: a controlled process done on purpose or a fully undesirable function produced by exposure to harmful substances. Many different sectors can benefit from the method.

Conversely, when surfaces collide and induce erosion, this is known as attrition. If you compare it to abrasion, it is a far faster process that does not involve any friction at all. Surfaces subjected to corrosion suffer from significant wear and tear over time, and Coastal regions are the most prevalent locations where this procedure occurs.

Comparison Table Between Abrasion and Attrition

Parameters of ComparisonAbrasionAttrition
MeaningDue to the movement of silt, abrasion is a process of decomposition.Particles are reduced by attrition during erosion.
RateFor surfaces to go through this process, it takes a long periodThe procedure is fast and efficient.
CausesIn motion, surfaces rub against one another, resulting in this.It is the result of surfaces crashing together.
Influencing FactorsThese factors are interrelated and determine how the surface feels under your feet.Because of its shape and size, hardness and porosity are also factors.
LocationIt is possible for abrasion to occur anywhere there are rocks or sediments.Areas with waterbodies have a higher rate of attrition.

What is Abrasion?

The abrasion process is characterized by surfaces sustaining damage when in motion. Friction is the primary cause of this problem, and erosion describes the process in question. It is a slow process that takes a considerable amount of time. Scuffing or scratching is a form of abrasion that occurs when two surfaces brush against one another.

The number of different factors determines how two surfaces are abraded. Among the many considerations is the surface’s composition in terms of its mass, density, velocity, and roughness. Abrasion occurs faster when the materials are lightweight and loosely arranged in a structure. On the other hand, a bruise appears very slowly if the materials are heavy, hard, and closely packed.

Abrasion can occur on a single surface or with multiple characters simultaneously. Construction industries have been known to carry out the process in a deliberate and regulated manner at times. However, they can be classified into four major types when they occur naturally: air abrasion, coastal abrasion, glacial, and channel transfer. Wind abrasion is the most common type of abrasion.

Wind abrasion happens when little stones and sand scrape against surfaces as the wind carries them to their destination. Coastal abrasion occurs as a result of things moving through the water. Glaciation is the result of ice rubbing up against rock surfaces. Finally, as things flow along river channels, this is called channel transport.

What is Attrition?

Attrition is a natural phenomenon that occurs most frequently in regions where there are bodies of water present, and it should not be confused with coastal abrasion, a different sensation. A process known as attrition occurs when surfaces collide, causing them to shatter or wear down. In contrast to attrition, the procedure is relatively swift, and there is no friction in this process.

Riverbed attrition serves as a great illustration of this concept. The firm sediments that make up the bottom of a river’s surface are composed of a range of different types. While this is true when other hard objects flow with the current of water, they have a strong tendency to strike the bottom of the pool. When this happens, there is a certain amount of environmental damage.

Several distinct factors influence the extent of the damage. In the case of rock with existing cracks, if another rock collides with it, the disadvantage to that particular rock will be significantly increased. However, if a soft object strikes the same stone, the resulting damage would be minimal.

Regardless, a slew of methods has been devised by humans to maintain control over the process. One of these structures is a seawall. The solids that are carried by water are filtered away at an early stage due to this filtering.

Main Differences Between Abrasion and Attrition

  1. Wear and tear caused by sediment transport are characterized as abrasion, whereas attrition reduces the amount of material moved during erosion.
  2. Surfaces are subjected to abrasion over a lengthy period, whereas attrition occurs quickly.
  3. While the impact of surfaces induces both abrasion and attrition, the bruise is mostly caused by the friction between characters in motion.
  4. In contrast to abrasion, attrition is determined by the shape, size, toughness, fractures, & porosity of the surface’s materials. Abrasion is impacted by the materials’ density, mass, velocity, and roughness on the surface.
  5. Generally speaking, abrasion can be observed in several locations where rocks & other sediments are present.


Erosive processes such as abrasion & attrition are examples of this. They do, however, differ in minor ways from one another. In particular, abrasion is created by the friction between two moving surfaces, which is the most noticeable example of this. Surface collisions between surfaces cause attrition, on the other hand, resulting from damage caused by characters colliding against each other.

The two approaches are very different regarding the time required to see results. Abrasion is a slower process when compared to other types of erosion. Only after it has been in effect for a significant period can the damage produced be observed. As a result, the rate of attrition increases rapidly. Nearly immediately, the harm is visible. At the same time, abrasion can occur in various environments, whereas corrosion occurs mostly in water bodies.


  1. https://europepmc.org/article/med/17131710
  2. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/359936