AskDefine | Define outcrop

Dictionary Definition

outcrop n : the part of a rock formation that appears above the surface of the surrounding land [syn: outcropping, rock outcrop] v : appear on the surface, come to the surface on the ground; "Big boulders outcropped" [also: outcropping, outcropped]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /'aʊt.krɑp/, /"aUt.krQp/


  1. A piece of land that stands out (usually into water) from the land surrounding.
  2. A coming out of bedrock or of an unconsolidated deposit to the surface of the ground.
  3. The part of a rock formation that appears at the surface of the ground.


the part of a rock formation that appears at the surface of the ground
  • Polish: (geol) wychodnia

Extensive Definition

Outcrop is a geological term referring to the appearance of bedrock or superficial deposits exposed at the surface of the Earth. 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, 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, river banks, or tectonically active areas. 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 earth history. Some of the types of information that can only be obtained from bedrock outcrops, or through 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 critically important for understanding fossil assemblages, paleo-environment, and evolution as they provide a record of relative changes within geologic strata.
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: law of superposition, principle of original horizontality, principle of lateral continuity, and principle of faunal succession. Outcrops can therefore be considered the fundamental element of geologic science.
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.
outcrop in Catalan: Aflorament
outcrop in Czech: Výchoz
outcrop in German: Aufschluss (Geologie)
outcrop in French: Affleurement
outcrop in Galician: Afloramento
outcrop in Italian: Affioramento
outcrop in Dutch: Ontsluiting (geologie)
outcrop in Japanese: 露頭
outcrop in Polish: Wychodnia
outcrop in Portuguese: Afloramento (geologia)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

appear, arise, become manifest, become visible, come, come forth, come forward, come in sight, come out, come to hand, come to light, crop out, discernibleness, emerge, enter, epiphany, exposure, fade in, heave in sight, issue, issue forth, look forth, loom, manifestation, materialize, observability, outcropping, peep out, perceptibility, rear its head, revelation, rise, see the light, seeableness, show, show up, stream forth, strike the eye, the seen, the visible, turn up, visibility, visibleness, visuality, what is revealed
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