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Characterization of Iron Hydroxides in a Weathered Rock Surface by Visible Microspectroscopy

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In order to nondestructively characterize chemical forms of ferric hydroxides in weathered rock, charge-coupled device type visible microspectroscopy was applied to brown stains produced in weathered granite surfaces. The combination of visible microspectra and color parameters (a* and b*) was effective in examining chemical forms of ferric hydroxides in the analytical area. Color parameters in an a*-b* diagram of the brown stains, mostly lying between goethite and ferrihydrite trends, indicated that the brown stains contain ferrihydrite or hematite in addition to goethite. Similarity of the visible microspectra of the brown stains and their first derivatives to those of goethite or ferrihydrite suggests that goethite and/or ferrihydrite are the main weathering products of the granite. Occurrence of ferrihydrite as well as goethite in the brown stains implies that crystallization of ferrihydrite to goethite might be hindered during the granite weathering. This fact suggests the possibility of toxic metal retention in ferrihydrite by its long-term persistence during water-rock interactions at the earth's surface.
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