Articles | Volume 16, issue 6
Research article
19 Mar 2019
Research article |  | 19 Mar 2019

The origin and role of biological rock crusts in rocky desert weathering

Nimrod Wieler, Hanan Ginat, Osnat Gillor, and Roey Angel

Data sets

Arid and hyperarid rock crust, soil crust and dust microboime Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Analysis scripts, data files and plots used in the manuscript: roey-angel/Rock_weathering R. Angel

Short summary
In stony deserts, when rocks are exposed to atmospheric conditions, they undergo weathering. The cavernous (honeycomb) weathering pattern is one of the most common, but it is still unclear exactly how it is formed. We show that microorganisms, which differ from the surrounding soil and dust, form biological crusts on exposed rock surfaces. These microbes secrete polymeric substances that mitigate weathering by reducing evaporation rates and, consequently, salt transport rates through the rock.
Final-revised paper