Chapter 17: Dry Regions: The Geology of Deserts flashcards |

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alluvial fan

A gently sloping apron of sediment dropped by an ephemeral stream at the base of a mountain in arid or semi-arid regions.


A medium-sized, flat-topped hill in an arid region.


(1) A conduit in a magma chamber in the shape of a long vertical pipe through which magma rises and erupts at the surface; (2) an isolated column of strata in an arid region.

cliff retreat

The change in the position of a cliff face caused by erosion.


The process of lowering the land surface by wind abrasion.


A region so arid that it contains no permanent streams except for those that bring water in from elsewhere, and has very sparse vegetation cover.


The process of transforming nondesert areas into desert.

desert pavement

A mosaic-like stone surface forming the ground in a desert.

desert varnish

A dark, rusty-brown coating of iron oxide and magnesium oxide that accumulates on the surface of rock in an arid environment.

dry wash

The channel of an ephemeral stream when empty of water.


An isolated mountain or hill in a desert landscape created by progressive cliff retreat, so that the hill is surrounded by a pediment or an alluvial fan.

lag deposit

A surface accumulation of coarser sediment that forms where wind has blown away finer sediment.


A large, flat-topped hill (with a surface area of several square kilometers) in an arid region.


The broad, nearly horizontal bedrock surface at the base of a retreating desert cliff.


The flat, typically salty lake bed that remains when all the water evaporates in drier times; forms in desert regions.

rain shadow

The inland side of a mountain range, which is arid because the mountains block rain clouds from reaching the area.


The movement of a sediment in which grains bounce along their substrate, knocking other grains into the water column (or air) in the process.

surface load

Sediment that rolls or bounces in wind along the ground surface.

suspended load

Tiny solid grains carried along by a stream without settling to the floor of the channel.

talus apron

A wedge-shaped pile of rock fragments that accumulates at the base of a cliff.


A desert rock whose surface has been faceted by the wind.

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