The rock varnish revolution: New insights from microlaminations and the contributions of Tanzhuo Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Rock varnish is a coating composed of clay minerals cemented to rock surfaces by oxides of manganese and iron. Although this dark brown-to-black accretion is most noticeable in arid regions, it occurs in all terrestrial weathering environments. Scholarly varnish research started with Alexander von Humboldt, when he asked how this external accretion forms and why manganese concentrations in varnish are 101 -102 greater than in potential source materials. In the ensuing two centuries, investigations into rock varnish have been characterized by researchers studying only a handful of samples who have often used limited data to draw general conclusions. In contrast, nearly two decades of work by Tanzhuo Liu of Columbia University has yielded more than 10,000 varnish microstratigraphies obtained from rock depressions, analyses of which have provided new insights into the origin of rock varnish and the nature of climatic change in deserts, in addition to opening new research avenues in geomorphology and geoarchaeology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1804-1823
Number of pages20
JournalGeography Compass
Volume3
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2009

Fingerprint

rock varnish
Varnish
Rocks
manganese
desert
accretion
arid region
rock
geomorphology
Manganese
clay mineral
coating
weathering
oxide
Geomorphology
Arid regions
iron
climate change
Weathering
Clay minerals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Social Sciences(all)

Cite this

The rock varnish revolution : New insights from microlaminations and the contributions of Tanzhuo Liu. / Dorn, Ronald.

In: Geography Compass, Vol. 3, No. 5, 09.2009, p. 1804-1823.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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