Ultraviolet spectral reflectance properties of common planetary minerals

Edward A. Cloutis, Kaitlyn A. McCormack, James Bell, Amanda R. Hendrix, Daniel T. Bailey, Michael A. Craig, Stanley A. Mertzman, Mark Robinson, Miriam A. Riner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Ultraviolet spectral reflectance properties (200-400 nm) of a large number of minerals known or presumed to exist on the surfaces of Mars, the Moon, and asteroids, and in many meteorites, were investigated. Ultraviolet reflectance spectra (200-400 nm) of these minerals range from slightly blue-sloped (reflectance decreasing toward longer wavelengths) to strongly red-sloped (reflectance increasing toward longer wavelengths). Most exhibit one or two absorption features that are attributable to Fe{single bond}O charge transfers involving Fe3+ or Fe2+. The UV region is a very sensitive indicator of the presence of even trace amounts (<0.01 wt%) of Fe3+ and Fe2+. The major Fe3+{single bond}O absorption band occurs at shorter wavelengths (∼210-230 nm), and is more intense than the major Fe2+{single bond}O absorption band (∼250-270 nm). Ti-bearing minerals, such as ilmenite, rutile and anatase exhibit UV absorption bands attributable to Ti4+{single bond}O charge transfers. While the positions of metal-O charge transfer bands sometimes differ for different minerals, the variation is often not diagnostic enough to permit unique mineral identification. However, iron oxides and oxyhydroxides can generally be distinguished from Fe-bearing silicates in the 200-400 nm region on the basis of absorption band positions. Within a given mineral group (e.g., low-calcium pyroxene, olivine, plagioclase feldspar), changes in Fe2+ or Fe3+ abundance do not appear to result in a measurable change in absorption band minima positions. Absorption band positions can vary as a function of grain size, however, and this variation is likely due to band saturation effects. The intensity of metal-O charge transfers means that some minerals will exhibit saturated UV absorption bands even for fine-grained (<45 μm) powders. In cases where absorption bands are not saturated (e.g., Fe2+{single bond}O bands in some plagioclase feldspars and pyroxenes), changes in Fe2+ content do not appear to cause variations in band position. In other minerals (e.g., olivine), changes in band positions are correlated with compositional and/or grain size variations, but this is likely due to increasing band saturation rather than compositional variations. Overall, we find that the UV spectral region is sensitive to different mineral properties than longer wavelength regions, and thus offers the potential to provide complementary capabilities and unique opportunities for planetary remote sensing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-347
Number of pages27
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008


  • Mars
  • Moon
  • Spectroscopy
  • Ultraviolet observations
  • surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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