desert varnish

noun
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:
1900–05

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Example sentences
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.
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