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

Examples of desert varnish in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Discolorations like these, known as desert varnish, are ubiquitous and routinely signify deposits of manganese or other minerals. Zack Savitsky, Quanta Magazine, 12 July 2023 Even these days, she’s known to take off on a whim to explore Red Rocks or Canyonlands National Park, hiking along streams and exploring the ruins built into canyon walls where the desert varnish has darkened the pictographs. The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Nov. 2020 Will the Arches social media team continue to be able to post about bighorn sheep, desert varnish and other fascinating features of the park? Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 Aug. 2022 But there are advancements being made that may allow scientists to determine dates by analyzing the desert varnish on rocks. San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Jan. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'desert varnish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1898, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of desert varnish was circa 1898

Dictionary Entries Near desert varnish

Cite this Entry

“Desert varnish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

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