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View of a bedrock outcrop near San Carlos Water, Falkland Islands San Carlos Water, Falkland Islands.jpg
View of a bedrock outcrop near San Carlos Water, Falkland Islands

An outcrop or rocky outcrop is a visible exposure of bedrock or ancient superficial deposits on the surface of the Earth. [1]

Bedrock Lithified rock under the regolith

Bedrock in geology is the lithified rock that lies under loose softer material called regolith within the surface of the Earth's crust or other terrestrial planets.

Superficial deposits refer to geological deposits typically of Quaternary age. These geologically recent unconsolidated sediments may include stream channel and floodplain deposits, beach sands, talus gravels and glacial drift and moraine. All pre-Quaternary deposits are referred to as bedrock.



Outcrops do not cover the majority of the Earth's land surface because in most places the bedrock or superficial deposits are covered by a mantle of soil and vegetation and cannot be seen or examined closely. However, in places where the overlying cover is removed through erosion or tectonic uplift, the rock may be exposed, or crop out. Such exposure will happen most frequently in areas where erosion is rapid and exceeds the weathering rate such as on steep hillsides, mountain ridges and tops, river banks, and tectonically active areas. In Finland, glacial erosion during the last glacial maximum (ca. 11000 BC), followed by scouring by sea waves, followed by isostatic uplift has produced many smooth coastal and littoral outcrops.

Soil mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support life

Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support life. Earth's body of soil, called the pedosphere, has four important functions:

Erosion Processes which remove soil and rock from one place on the Earths crust, then transport it to another location where it is deposited

In earth science, erosion is the action of surface processes that removes soil, rock, or dissolved material from one location on the Earth's crust, and then transports it to another location. This natural process is caused by the dynamic activity of erosive agents, that is, water, ice (glaciers), snow, air (wind), plants, animals, and humans. In accordance with these agents, erosion is sometimes divided into water erosion, glacial erosion, snow erosion, wind (aeolic) erosion, zoogenic erosion, and anthropogenic erosion. The particulate breakdown of rock or soil into clastic sediment is referred to as physical or mechanical erosion; this contrasts with chemical erosion, where soil or rock material is removed from an area by its dissolving into a solvent, followed by the flow away of that solution. Eroded sediment or solutes may be transported just a few millimetres, or for thousands of kilometres.

Tectonic uplift The portion of the total geologic uplift of the mean earth surface that is not attributable to an isostatic response to unloading

Tectonic uplift is the portion of the total geologic uplift of the mean Earth surface that is not attributable to an isostatic response to unloading. While isostatic response is important, an increase in the mean elevation of a region can only occur in response to tectonic processes of crustal thickening, changes in the density distribution of the crust and underlying mantle, and flexural support due to the bending of rigid lithosphere.

Bedrock and superficial deposits may also be exposed at the Earth's surface due to human excavations such as quarrying and building of transport routes.


Outcrops allow direct observation and sampling of the bedrock in situ for geologic analysis and creating geologic maps. In situ measurements are critical for proper analysis of geological history and outcrops are therefore extremely important for understanding the geologic time scale of earth history. Some of the types of information that cannot be obtained except from bedrock outcrops or by precise drilling and coring operations, are structural geology features orientations (e.g. bedding planes, fold axes, foliation), depositional features orientations (e.g. paleo-current directions, grading, facies changes), paleomagnetic orientations. Outcrops are also very important for understanding fossil assemblages, and paleo-environment, and evolution as they provide a record of relative changes within geologic strata.

In situ is a Latin phrase that translates literally to "on site" or "in position." It can mean "locally", "on site", "on the premises", or "in place" to describe where an event takes place and is used in many different contexts. For example, in fields such as physics, geology, chemistry, or biology, in situ may describe the way a measurement is taken, that is, in the same place the phenomenon is occurring without isolating it from other systems or altering the original conditions of the test.

Geology The study of the composition, structure, physical properties, and history of Earths components, and the processes by which they are shaped.

Geology is an earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Geology can also include the study of the solid features of any terrestrial planet or natural satellite such as Mars or the Moon. Modern geology significantly overlaps all other earth sciences, including hydrology and the atmospheric sciences, and so is treated as one major aspect of integrated earth system science and planetary science.

Geologic map special-purpose map made to show geological features

A geologic map or geological map is a special-purpose map made to show feature. Rock units or geologic strata are shown by color or symbols. Bedding planes and structural features such as faults, folds, are shown with strike and dip or trend and plunge symbols which give three-dimensional orientations features.

Accurate description, mapping, and sampling for laboratory analysis of outcrops made possible all of the geologic sciences and the development of fundamental geologic laws such as the law of superposition, the principle of original horizontality, principle of lateral continuity, and the principle of faunal succession.

Law of superposition In undeformed stratigraphic sequences, the oldest strata will be at the bottom of the sequence

The law of superposition is an axiom that forms one of the bases of the sciences of geology, archaeology, and other fields dealing with geological stratigraphy. It is a form of relative dating. In its plainest form, it states that in undeformed stratigraphic sequences, the oldest strata will be at the bottom of the sequence. This is important to stratigraphic dating, which assumes that the law of superposition holds true and that an object cannot be older than the materials of which it is composed.

Principle of original horizontality Layers of sediment are deposited approximately horizontally under the action of gravity

The Principle of Original Horizontality states that layers of sediment are originally deposited horizontally under the action of gravity. It is a relative dating technique. The principle is important to the analysis of folded and tilted strata. It was first proposed by the Danish geological pioneer Nicholas Steno (1638–1686).

Principle of lateral continuity

The principle of lateral continuity states that layers of sediment initially extend laterally in all directions; in other words, they are laterally continuous. As a result, rocks that are otherwise similar, but are now separated by a valley or other erosional feature, can be assumed to be originally continuous.


On Ordnance Survey maps in Great Britain, cliffs are distinguished from outcrops: cliffs have a continuous line along the top edge with lines protruding down; outcrops have a continuous line around each area of bare rock. An outcrop example in California is the Vasquez Rocks, familiar from location shooting use in many films, composed of uplifted sandstone. [2] [3] Yana is another example of outcrops, located in Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka, India.

Ordnance Survey National mapping agency of the UK for Great Britain

Ordnance Survey (OS) is the national mapping agency for Great Britain. The agency's name indicates its original military purpose, which was to map Scotland in the wake of the Jacobite rising of 1745. There was also a more general and nationwide need in light of the potential threat of invasion during the Napoleonic Wars. Since 1 April 2015 Ordnance Survey has operated as Ordnance Survey Ltd, a government-owned company, 100% in public ownership. The Ordnance Survey Board remains accountable to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It is also a member of the Public Data Group.

Great Britain Island in the North Atlantic off the northwest coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

California State in the United States

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents across a total area of about 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Caicó Municipality in Nordeste, Brazil

Caicó, also known as the City of Prince, is a municipality in the Seridó Ocidental microrregion and Central Potiguar mesorregion, in Rio Grande do Norte state, Northeast Brazil. With a population of 62,709 inhabitants (2010), it is the seventh most populous city of Rio Grande do Norte and the second in the state, after Mossoró.

Brazil Federal republic in South America

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, and its most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.

Espoo City and municipality in Uusimaa, Finland

Espoo is the second largest city and municipality in Finland. It is part of the Finnish Capital Region, along with the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa, and Kauniainen, and most of its population lives in the inner urban core of the Helsinki metropolitan area. Espoo shares its eastern border with Helsinki and Vantaa, while enclosing Kauniainen. Other bordering municipalities of Espoo are Nurmijärvi and Vihti in the north, and Kirkkonummi in the west. The city is located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, in the region of Uusimaa, and has a population of 284,444.

See also

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Llano Uplift

The Llano uplift is a low geologic dome that is about 90 miles (140 km) in diameter. It consists of an island-like exposure of Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks surrounded by outcrops of Paleozoic and Cretaceous sedimentary strata. At their widest, the exposed Precambrian rocks extend about 65 miles (105 km) westward from the valley of the Colorado River and beneath a broad, gentle topographic basin drained by the Llano River. The subdued topographic basin is underlain by Precambrian rocks and bordered by a discontinuous rim of flat-topped hills. These hills are the dissected edge of the Edwards Plateau, which consist of overlying Cretaceous sedimentary strata. Within this basin and along its margin are down-faulted blocks and erosional remnants of Paleozoic strata which form prominent hills.

Baltic Shield A segment of the Earths crust in the East European Craton, representing a large part of Fennoscandia, northwestern Russia and the northern Baltic Sea

The Baltic Shield is a segment of the Earth's crust belonging to the East European Craton, representing a large part of Fennoscandia, northwestern Russia and the northern Baltic Sea. It is composed mostly of Archean and Proterozoic gneisses and greenstone which have undergone numerous deformations through tectonic activity. It contains the oldest rocks of the European continent with a thickness of 250-300 km.

Raised beach A beach or wave-cut platform raised above the shoreline by a relative fall in the sea level

A raised beach, coastal terrace, or perched coastline is a relatively flat, horizontal or gently inclined surface of marine origin, mostly an old abrasion platform which has been lifted out of the sphere of wave activity. Thus, it lies above or under the current sea level, depending on the time of its formation. It is bounded by a steeper ascending slope on the landward side and a steeper descending slope on the seaward side. Due to its generally flat shape it is often used for anthropogenic structures such as settlements and infrastructure.

Geology of Great Britain

The geology of Great Britain is renowned for its diversity. As a result of its eventful geological history, Great Britain shows a rich variety of landscapes across the constituent countries of England, Wales and Scotland. Rocks of almost all geological ages are represented at outcrop, from the Archaean onwards.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park in California

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is a 932-acre (377-hectare) park located in the Sierra Pelona Mountains in northern Los Angeles County, California. It is located in the town of Agua Dulce, between the suburbs of Santa Clarita and Palmdale. The area is also visible from the Antelope Valley Freeway.

Geology of the Canyonlands area

The exposed geology of the Canyonlands area is complex and diverse; 12 formations are exposed in Canyonlands National Park that range in age from Pennsylvanian to Cretaceous. The oldest and perhaps most interesting was created from evaporites deposited from evaporating seawater. Various fossil-rich limestones, sandstones, and shales were deposited by advancing and retreating warm shallow seas through much of the remaining Paleozoic.

Joint (geology) geological term for a type of fracture in rock

A joint is a break (fracture) of natural origin in the continuity of either a layer or body of rock that lacks any visible or measurable movement parallel to the surface (plane) of the fracture. Although they can occur singly, they most frequently occur as joint sets and systems. A joint set is a family of parallel, evenly spaced joints that can be identified through mapping and analysis of the orientations, spacing, and physical properties. A joint system consists of two or more intersecting joint sets.

Karoo Supergroup Widespread Mesozoic stratigraphic unit in southern Africa

The Karoo Supergroup is the most widespread stratigraphic unit in Africa south of the Kalahari Desert. The supergroup consists of a sequence of units, mostly of nonmarine origin, deposited between the Late Carboniferous and Early Jurassic, a period of about 120 million years.

Geology of Minnesota

The geology of Minnesota comprises the rock, minerals, and soils of the U.S. state of Minnesota, including their formation, development, distribution, and condition.

Abrasion (geology) geological process

Abrasion is a process of erosion which occurs when material being transported wears away at a surface over time. It is the process of friction caused by scuffing, scratching, wearing down, marring, and rubbing away of materials. The intensity of abrasion depends on the hardness, concentration, velocity and mass of the moving particles. Abrasion generally occurs four ways. Glaciation slowly grinds rocks picked up by ice against rock surfaces. Solid objects transported in river channels make abrasive surface contact with the bed and walls. Objects transported in waves breaking on coastlines cause abrasion. And, finally, abrasion can be caused by wind transporting sand or small stones against surface rocks.

The geology of Cheshire in England consists mainly of Triassic sandstones and mudstones. To the north west of Cheshire, these rocks are heavily faulted and the underlying Carboniferous Coal Measures are thrown up. Around the areas of Poynton and Macclesfield, the coal is close to the surface and was easily mined. Below the Coal Measures is the Millstone Grit, which appears towards the Derbyshire border on the flanks of the Peak District dome.

Geology of Ireland

The geology of Ireland consists of the study of the rock formations on the island of Ireland. It includes rocks from every age from Proterozoic to Holocene and a large variety of different rock types is represented. The basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway together with geologically significant sections of the adjacent coast have been declared a World Heritage Site. The geological detail follows the major events in Ireland's past based on the geological timescale.

Erosion and tectonics

The interaction between erosion and tectonics has been a topic of debate since the early 1990s. While the tectonic effects on surface processes such as erosion have long been recognized, the opposite has only recently been addressed. The primary questions surrounding this topic are what types of interactions exist between erosion and tectonics and what are the implications of these interactions. While this is still a matter of debate, one thing is clear, the Earth's landscape is a product of two factors: tectonics, which can create topography and maintain relief through surface and rock uplift, and climate, which mediates the erosional processes that wear away upland areas over time. The interaction of these processes can form, modify, or destroy geomorphic features on the Earth's surface.

Geology of New England

New England is a region in the North Eastern United States consisting of the states Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. Most of New England consists geologically of volcanic island arcs that accreted onto the eastern edge of the Laurentian Craton in prehistoric times. Much of the bedrock found in New England is heavily metamorphosed due to the numerous mountain building events that occurred in the region. These events culminated in the formation of Pangaea; the coastline as it exists today was created by rifting during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The most recent rock layers are glacial conglomerates.

Geology of Germany

The geology of Germany is heavily influenced by several phases of orogeny in the Paleozoic and the Cenozoic, by sedimentation in shelf seas and epicontinental seas and on plains in the Permian and Mesozoic as well as by the Quaternary glaciations.

The geology of Colorado was assembled from island arcs accreted onto the edge of the ancient Wyoming Craton. The Sonoma orogeny uplifted the ancestral Rocky Mountains in parallel with the diversification of multicellular life. Shallow seas covered the regions, followed by the uplift current Rocky Mountains and intense volcanic activity. Colorado has thick sedimentary sequences with oil, gas and coal deposits, as well as base metals and other minerals.

Edaga Arbi Glacials Palaeozoic geological formation in Africa

The Edaga Arbi Glacials are a Palaeozoic geological formation in Tigray and in Eritrea. The matrix is composed of grey, black and purple clays, that contains rock fragments up to 6 metres across. Pollen dating yields a Late Carboniferous to Early Permian age.


  1. Howell, J. V., 1960, Glossary of geology and related sciences. American Geological Institute, Washington, p. 207-208
  2. oxy.edu. Vazquez Rocks. access date:5/22/2010
  3. parks.lacounty.gov. Vazquez Rocks Natural Area and Nature Center. access date:5/22/2010