Linking gemology and spectral geology: a case study of elbaites from Seridó Pegmatite Province, Northeastern Brazil

Thais Andressa Carrino, Sandra de Brito Barreto, Paula Jussara Azevedo de Oliveira, José Ferreira de Araújo Neto, Aldine Maria de Lima Correia


Reflectance spectroscopy is a fast tool for mineral identification and classification. We conducted spectral characterization of elbaite samples (n = 30) from Seridó Pegmatite Province, Borborema Province, NE Brazil, using a FieldSpec portable instrument and geochemical data from electron probe microanalysis. Visual interpretation of reflectance spectra reveals the absorption features in the visible to near infrared (350–1,200 nm) range related to the electronic transition processes of iron (e.g., ~720, ~1,180 nm), copper (e.g., ~694, ~922 nm) and manganese (e.g., ~400, ~520 nm) ions. In general, electron probe microanalysis data show correlation with the absorption features related to chromophore elements (e.g., Cu, Fe, Mn), but the complex crystal structure of the tourmalines also accounts for the generation of absorption features. Vibrational processes in the short-wave infrared (1,200–2,500 nm) spectral range appear associated with Mn-OH, OH, Al-OH, H2O and B-OH bonds. A statistical approach, using principal component analysis, was chosen for distinguishing tourmalines of different composition. We discriminated tourmalines characterized by green, blue, blue-green, red/purple colors, as well as the colorless ones. This included the Paraíba tourmaline, a high value variety of elbaite that is the focus of exploration carried out in Seridó Pegmatite Province.


Reflectance; FieldSpec™; Tourmalines; Chromophore elements; Principal component analysis technique.

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