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desert varnish

the dark, lustrous coating or crust, usually of manganese and iron oxides, that forms on rocks, pebbles, etc., when exposed to weathering in the desert.
Also called desert polish.
Origin of desert varnish
1900-05 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for desert varnish
  • Greg stood beside a boulder coated with the dark brown mineral accretion known as desert varnish.
  • On desert rocks, it oxidizes manganese metal to manganese oxide, generating a dark patina called desert varnish.
  • No desert varnish has developed on clasts, except where it is apparently inherited.
  • Oil from your hands can damage the petroglyphs and desert varnish.
  • When looking at the dark basalt boulders, you are actually looking at desert varnish.
  • The designs were cut through the darker stained surface, known as desert varnish, exposing the lighter rock underneath.
  • Older, inactive channels have been darkened by desert varnish.
  • It erodes to vertical cliffs which are commonly coated with a dusky-red desert varnish.
  • Exposure to the elements caused the top surface of these rocks to turn a dark brown- this is known as desert varnish.
  • Some specimens exhibit a glossy desert varnish top of page.

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