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Featured article from geoscience journal

Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems/Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst, 2012, Vol 13, Issue 12, p. 1-37
The new global lithological map database GLiM: A representation of rock properties at the Earth surface

Lithology describes the geochemical, mineralogical, and physical properties of rocks. It plays a key role in many processes at the Earth surface, especially the fluxes of matter to soils, ecosystems, rivers, and oceans. Understanding these processes at the global scale requires a high resolution description of lithology. A new high resolution global lithological map (GLiM) was assembled from existing regional geological maps translated into lithological information with the help of regional literature. The GLiM represents the rock types of the Earth surface with 1,235,400 polygons. The lithological classification consists of three levels. The first level contains 16 lithological classes comparable to previously applied definitions in global lithological maps. The additional two levels contain 12 and 14 subclasses, respectively, which describe more specific rock attributes. According to the GLiM, the Earth is covered by 64% sediments (a third of which are carbonates), 13% metamorphics, 7% plutonics, and 6% volcanics, and 10% are covered by water or ice. The high resolution of the GLiM allows observation of regional lithological distributions which often vary from the global average. The GLiM enables regional analysis of Earth surface processes at global scales. A gridded version of the GLiM is available at the PANGEA Database (http://dx.doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.788537).