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Desert varnish plays an important role in archeology.Many petroglyphs are created by chipping through a dark coat of desert varnish to expose a lighter colored underlying rock.Upper Left: A vertical face at Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, is streaked with heavy metal skins, iron films, lithobiont coatings, oxalate crusts, rock varnish, and silica glaze.Upper Right: Lava flows in the arid regions of Mauna Loa show a distinct color change within decades as a direct result of accumulation of silica glaze.A thin coating of desert varnish occurs on Forrest 009 and Nurina 004, both equilibrated ordinary chondrite (L6) finds from the Nullarbor Plain, Australia.This finely laminated deposit is chemically and petrographically comparable to the varnish found on terrestrial rocks.
The interior of the meteorite contains Fe-oxide and oxyhydroxide veins that have formed by chemical weathering of metals and sulphides.
This petroglyph is in Indian Petroglyph , New Mexico, USA.
Desert varnish is commonly seen coating rocks in deserts.
One of the most common places to find rock varnish is in deserts were this varnish is called desert varnish.
Desert varnish appears on the vertical surface of rocks but it may also appear on very stable horizontal surfaces.