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An outcrop in geology is a place where in-situ rock comes to the surface and can be studied. These may be of natural origin (due to erosion processes) or anthropogenic origin (e.g. roadcuts, pits and quarries). Outcrops are important to study the geology of an area. If there are no natural outcrops, drilling is an option.
The extent to which there are natural outcrops are present in a landscape is a function of a number of different parameters:
- The dynamics of the landscape: highly dynamic areas are areas where erosion processes are strongly present (e.g. cliff coasts, steep valley landscapes) . Here more natural outcrops occur.
- Coverage by sediments: alluvium and colluvium can cover outcrops. In the temperate regions of Northern Europe a significant part of the land area is characterized by aeolian sediments deposited during the last ice age.
- Vegetation cover: the presence of vegetation can hide outcrops from view .
The accessibility of outcrops is partly a function of anthropogenic factors such as the extent to which the land surface is sealed (buildings, asphalt, etc.) and the extent to which it has been privatized.
Outcrops of the Cenomanian at the cliff coast of Cap Blanc Nez, France
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