Estimation of the Relative Abundance of Quartz to Clay Minerals Using the Visible–Near-Infrared–Shortwave-Infrared Spectral Region

Nicolas Francos, Gila Notesco, Eyal Ben-Dor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quartz is the most abundant mineral on the earth’s surface. It is spectrally active in the longwave infrared (LWIR) region with no significant spectral features in the optical domain, i.e., visible–near-infrared–shortwave-infrared (Vis–NIR–SWIR) region. Several space agencies are planning to mount optical image spectrometers in space, with one of their missions being to map raw materials. However, these sensors are active across the optical region, making the spectral identification of quartz mineral problematic. This study demonstrates that indirect relationships between the optical and LWIR regions (where quartz is spectrally dominant) can be used to assess quartz content spectrally using solely the optical region. To achieve this, we made use of the legacy Israeli soil spectral library, which characterizes arid and semiarid soils through comprehensive chemical and mineral analyses along with spectral measurements across the Vis–NIR–SWIR region (reflectance) and LWIR region (emissivity). Recently, a Soil Quartz Clay Mineral Index (SQCMI) was developed using mineral-related emissivity features to determine the content of quartz, relative to clay minerals, in the soil. The SQCMI was highly and significantly correlated with the Vis–NIR–SWIR spectral region (R2= 0.82, root mean square error (RMSE) = 0.01, ratio of performance to deviation (RPD) = 2.34), whereas direct estimation of the quartz content using a gradient-boosting algorithm against the Vis–NIR–SWIR region provided poor results (R2= 0.45, RMSE = 15.63, RPD = 1.32). Moreover, estimation of the SQCMI value was even more accurate when only the 2000–2450 nm spectral range (atmospheric window) was used (R2= 0.9, RMSE = 0.005, RPD = 1.95). These results suggest that reflectance data across the 2000–2450 nm spectral region can be used to estimate quartz content, relative to clay minerals in the soil satisfactorily using hyperspectral remote sensing means.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)882-892
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Spectroscopy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • LWIR
  • Soil spectroscopy
  • Vis–NIR–SWIR
  • clay minerals
  • data analysis
  • gradient boosting
  • longwave infrared
  • machine learning
  • quartz
  • soil spectral library
  • thermal remote sensing
  • visible–near-infrared–shortwave-infrared


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