Quantitative Compositional Analysis of Sedimentary Materials Using Thermal Emission Spectroscopy: 1. Application to Sedimentary Rocks

Document Type


Publication Date



thermal emission; sedimentary rocks; spectroscopy; mineralogy; Mars; X-ray diffraction


Thermal emission spectroscopy is used to determine the mineralogy of sandstone and mudstone rocks as part of an investigation of linear spectral mixing between sedimentary constituent phases. With widespread occurrences of sedimentary rocks on the surface of Mars, critical examination of the accuracy associated with quantitative models of mineral abundances derived from thermal emission spectra of sedimentary materials is necessary. Although thermal emission spectroscopy has been previously proven to be a viable technique to obtain quantitative mineralogy from igneous and metamorphic materials, sedimentary rocks, with natural variation of composition, compaction, and grain size, have yet to be examined. In this work, we present an analysis of the thermal emission spectral (~270–1650 cm−1) characteristics of a suite of 13 sandstones and 14 mudstones. X-ray diffraction and traditional point counting procedures were all evaluated in comparison with thermal emission spectroscopy. Results from this work are consistent with previous thermal emission spectroscopy studies and indicate that bulk rock mineral abundances can be estimated within 11.2% for detrital grains (i.e., quartz and feldspars) and 14.8% for all other mineral phases present in both sandstones and mudstones, in comparison to common in situ techniques used for determining bulk rock composition. Clay-sized to fine silt-sized grained phase identification is less accurate, with differences from the known ranging from ~5 to 24% on average. Nevertheless, linear least squares modeling of thermal emission spectra is an advantageous technique for determining abundances of detrital grains and sedimentary matrix and for providing a rapid classification of clastic rocks.

thorpe_et_al_JGR_2015_spectra.txt (656 kB)
Thermal emission spectra and x-axis from paper

thorpe_et_al_JGR_2015_spectrum_labels.txt (1 kB)
Thermal emission spectra labels