- © 2014 Mineralogical Society of America
One of the most astonishing properties of minerals is luminescence, usually observed under ultraviolet light excitation in the laboratory or field as a bit of a curiosity, but increasingly a subject of detailed study utilizing electron beam and laser instrumentation that reveals highly specific electronic structure information and mineral histories.
Volume 18, Chapter 14 of Reviews in Mineralogy & Geochemistry (RiMG) presented an overview of mineral luminescence, including an introduction to some of the relevant processes and mechanisms, and a brief catalog of observations for some commonly luminescent minerals (Waychunas 1988). Later, Volume 48 Chapter 19 of RiMG contained a thorough survey of luminescence in apatite minerals (Waychunas 2002) and since then, the EMU Notes in Mineralogy Series Volume 6, Chapter 2 reviewed luminescence techniques with classic examples (Nasdala et al. 2004). In the present chapter the emphasis is on methodology and application with luminescent studies undertaken in the last two decades. During this time three types of investigations have seen more prominence: 1) mineralogical studies using gated laser-excitation to reveal luminescent mechanisms, electronic structure and specific activators; 2) use of cathodoluminescence in petrology to give information on provenance and thermal/radiation history, and to aid in phase and trace impurity identification; and 3) thermoluminescence measurements to yield thermal history and age information. These three types of investigations and typical results constitute the main body of this chapter, once the general aspects of luminescence phenomena have been introduced.
Luminescence spectroscopy has traditionally been done with instrumentation common to optical (UV-vis-IR) analysis, but this has evolved with the advent of sophisticated and flexible laser excitation systems, and efficient cathodoluminescence apparatus for electron microprobe and SEM installations, both of which have greatly extended both the specific information content and sensitivity of analysis. Accordingly more space is spent on these newer approaches in this …