A hardened natural cement of calcium carbonate, CaCO3, binds other materials like gravels and sand. Caliche is generally light-colored, but can range from white (Northwest Africa) to reddish-brown (due to iron in the soil as found in Australia), depending on the impurities present. This caliche often encrusts meteorites found in the hot desert and can be very difficult to remove chemically and/or mechanically without damaging the meteorite.

Caliche forms naturally during repeated wetting and drying in arid climates where calcium is present in the soil.

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