Articles | Volume 16, issue 6
Biogeosciences, 16, 1133–1145, 2019
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-16-1133-2019
Biogeosciences, 16, 1133–1145, 2019
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-16-1133-2019

Research article 19 Mar 2019

Research article | 19 Mar 2019

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

Nimrod Wieler et al.

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Cited articles

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Amit, R., Harrison, J. B. J., Enzel, Y., and Porat, N.: Soils as a tool for estimating ages of Quaternary fault scarps in a hyperarid environment – the southern Arava valley, the Dead Sea Rift, Israel, CATENA, 28, 21–45, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0341-8162(96)00028-8, 1996. 
Amit, R., Enzel, Y., Grodek, T., Crouvi, O., Porat, N., and Ayalon, A.: The role of rare rainstorms in the formation of calcic soil horizons on alluvial surfaces in extreme deserts, Quat. Res., 74, 177–187, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yqres.2010.06.001, 2010. 
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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.
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