desert varnish love

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  • n. A dark coating found on exposed rock surfaces in arid environments.

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  • Mountain peaks and boulders in the arid U.S. Southwest are often colored in shades of orange, green, yellow, and gray. At first glance, the coatings resemble a layer of paint. The phenomenon is actually the result of a thin layer of microscopic organisms, including lichen and colonies of bacteria called "desert varnish."

    December 13, 2007