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Definition of DESERT VARNISH
: a dark coating which is found on rocks after long exposure in desert regions and whose color is due to iron and manganese oxides
First Known Use of DESERT VARNISH
Thin, dark red to black mineral coating (generally iron and manganese oxides and silica) deposited on pebbles and rocks on the surface of desert regions. As dew and soil moisture brought to the surface by capillary action evaporate, their dissolved minerals are deposited on the surface. Wind abrasion removes the softer salts and polishes the surface to a glossy finish. Both high evaporation rates and sufficient precipitation are necessary for desert varnish to form.