A small, inconspicuous lichen, Acarospora cf. badiofusca, was discovered colonizing iron-stained quartz mica schists on the lower slope of Manhaul Rock, a recently exposed nunatak on the McLeod Glacier, Signy Island, South Orkney Islands. Thallus colour ranged from rust on exposed rock surfaces to paler orange and green in shaded crevices. This study addressed the hypothesis that colour reflects element localization, and considered substance localization within lichen tissues and responses to stress. Electron microprobe analysis of specimens confirmed that Fe is localized principally in the outer rust-coloured part of the cortex, confirming that the colour reflects Fe localization. Oxalates, widely reported as contributing to tolerance mechanisms to environmental stress, were not detected using X-ray diffraction. The upper thallus surface consisted of sub-micron particulate phases containing Fe, Al and O, suggesting mixed oxide/hydroxide phases are present and play a role in photoprotection.