The annealing behavior of amorphous SiC layers produced by MeV Si implantation into 6H–SiC has been investigated systematically by means of step height measurements, x-ray diffraction, and optical microscopy. Two annealing stages are found. Each of them causes a specific densification of the amorphous layer. At temperatures between 250 and 700 °C both the rapidity and the low activation energy (184 meV) of the densification suggest that defect annealing processes are responsible for densification. Partial crystallization and changes of the amorphous network structure can be excluded as a possible reason for low temperature densification. Annealing at temperatures above 700 °C is characterized by a combination of defect annealing and recrystallization. The crystallization kinetics is analyzed in terms of the Johnson–Mehl–Avrami theory. It is shown that the crystallization mode changes with increasing temperature from nucleated growth at 800 °C to epitaxial growth at 1000 °C. The recrystallization generates stress in the layer which leads to surface cracking if the layer exceeds a critical thickness. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.