Rock Coatings

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Fourteen different types of coatings cover rock surfaces in every terrestrial weathering environment, altering the appearance of the underlying landform. Some accretions interdigitate, whereas others blend together, creating a great number of variations. Rock coatings are important in geomorphology because coatings: alter weathering rates; play a role in case-hardening surfaces; offer clues to understanding environmental change; and can provide chronometric insight into the exposure of the underlying rock surface. Following a landscape geochemistry paradigm, five general hierarchies of control explain the occurrence of different types of rock coatings: first order - geomorphic processes control the stability of bedrock surfaces on which coatings form; second order - coatings originating in rock fissures occur on subaerial surfaces when erosion of the overlying rock occurs; third order - the habitability of surfaces for fast-growing lithobionts such as lichens determines whether slowly accreting coatings occur; fourth order - the raw ingredients must have a transport pathway to the rock surface, and of course, they must be present; fifth order - physical, geochemical, or biological barriers to transport then result in the accretion of the coating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTreatise on Geomorphology
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 1-14
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9780123747396
ISBN (Print)9780080885223
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Carbonate skin
  • Case hardening
  • Desert varnish
  • Dust film
  • Heavy metal skin
  • Iron film
  • Lithobiontic coating
  • Nitrate crust
  • Oxalate crust
  • Phosphate skin
  • Pigment
  • Rock varnish
  • Salt crust
  • Silica glaze
  • Sulfate crust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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