MSITU Raman spectroscopy of cave minerals: an analytical tool compatible with the conservation of subterranean heritage

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- By: , , , ,

Courtesy of B&W Tek

Introduction: Up to 380 different minerals have been described in caves over the past century [1]. The presence of particular mineral phases has been used as indicators of specific paleoenvironmental conditions occurred in caves [2, 3]. On the other hand, processes involved in the genesis of some cave minerals have been proposed as potential analogs of minerogenetic mechanisms occurred during the early geological history of Mars [4].

In many cases, the identification of cave minerals requires of sampling, which can pose a serious threat to the preservation of subterranean heritage. Caves are usually protected sites with relevant aesthetic and geological values. Oversampling and bad practices of researchers during field work have produced severe damage in caves [5], in particular due to speleothems sampling, which take usually thousands of years to form.

In this work we propose Raman spectroscopy as an powerful technique for mineralogical studies in caves. Its non-destructive character, high spatial resolution and the existence of light miniaturized Raman equipments available in the market, make it possible its use in caves, not only for the analysis of geological features but also for studying prehistoric paintings [6].

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