Spectral Properties of Anhydrous Carbonates and Nitrates

J. L. Bishop*, S. J. King, M. D. Lane, A. J. Brown, B. Lafuente, T. Hiroi, R. Roberts, G. A. Swayze, J. F. Lin, M. Sánchez Román

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The spectral properties of anhydrous carbonates and nitrates are dominated by strong, sharp vibrational bands due to the CO32− and NO3 anions observed as absorption bands in near-infrared spectra, as Reststrahlen features or absorption bands in mid-IR spectra, depending on particle size, and as peaks in Raman spectra. These spectral features provide a reliable means to identify the occurrence of carbonates and nitrates on planetary surfaces, which in turn contribute to our understanding of the environment and chemistry of planetary bodies. Four modes occur for carbonates and nitrates due to symmetric stretching (ν1), out-of-plane bending (ν2), asymmetric stretching (ν3), and in-plane bending (ν4). The vibrational absorptions of these spectral features vary with the mineral structure and the size of the cation, where the calcite-, dolomite-, aragonite-, and alkali-type structures result in different spectral features. Mid-IR bands for carbonates and nitrates occur from 1,040 to 1,105 cm−1 for ν1, from 810 to 906 cm−1 for ν2, from 1,275 to 1,590 cm−1 for ν3, and from 670 to 756 cm−1 for ν4. In Raman spectra the carbonate and nitrate absorptions are observed near 1,050–1,080 cm−1 for ν1, near 880 cm−1 for ν2, near 1,415–1,430 cm−1 for ν3, and near 680–700 cm−1 for ν4. NIR spectra include bands due to overtones and combinations at ∼1.75, 1.9, 2.0, 2.3, 2.5, 3.4, 4.0, and 4.6 μm for carbonates and ∼1.8, 2.0, 2.2, 2.4, 2.6, 3.5, 4.1, and 4.8 μm for nitrates. This study provides data for remote determination of carbonate and nitrate chemistry and will enable better characterization of these minerals on planetary bodies including Mars, Ceres, and Bennu.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021EA001844
Pages (from-to)1-43
Number of pages43
JournalEarth and Space Science
Issue number10
Early online date3 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank W.R. Gnesda and C. Haberle for helpful comments that improved this article. Support for this project in the early stages was provided by grant #NNX12AO55G from NASA's Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program to J. L. Bishop and A. J. Brown, and the Planetary Geology and Geophysics Research for Undergraduates Program to S. J. King. Recent support was provided to J. L. Bishop, S. J. King, and A. J. Brown from NASA's Astrobiology Institute and to J. L. Bishop from PDART grant # 80NSSC19K0424. J. F. Lin acknowledges support from the Geophysics Program of the National Science Foundation (EAR‐1916941).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors.


  • carbonate
  • emissivity
  • nitrate
  • Raman
  • reflectance
  • spectroscopy


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