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Desert Varnish: A Crude Marker of the Passage of Time

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Thank you for posting this. I’ve always wondered about the varnish and how it is formed.

Naturalis Historia

Anyone who has spent time in a desert has probably noticed many dark streaks or patches on the rocks.  I expect that most people simply look at these dark streaks and think they are simply stains like a stain on a cement driveway or that line of rust color running down a wall from a rusty nail above.   No big deal right? But what if you were shown a picture of the same rock taken 50 years earlier and the stains looked identical to you?   You might start to wonder just how old those stains are on those rocks.  A week ago I posted pictures (NH Photography:  Desert Varnish around Moab UT)   of rocks with shiny black or orange varnish on them from my trip to Utah this summer.  I want to explore the origins of this varnish a further today.

Rock varnish…

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Author: ohnwentsya

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