Identifying Mineral Samples Indicative of Asbestos

Asbestos associated minerals belong to the serpentine and amphibole mineral groups and include chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, anthophyllite, tremolite and actinolite.

The asbestiform varieties of these minerals are classified as hazardous materials and regulated in the United States by the EPA. These minerals can occur in many types of geological formations and have been found in small quantities in other mined mineral resources such as talc and vermiculite. With a Spectral Evolution field spectrometer like the oreXpert, oreXplorer or oreXpress and EZ-ID mineral identification software with three libraries, asbestos related minerals can be identified in the lab or the field.

The oreXpress field mineral analyzer with EZ-ID mineral identification software was used to scan rock samples provided from a site in China. The samples were discovered to contain chrysotile, a mineral commonly found with asbestos deposits. The samples, taken from trenches were scanned on-site and later analyzed using EZ-ID at the main exploration camp. The oreXpress delivers high resolution/high sensitivity across the 350-2500nm spectral range. Designed for field use, the oreXpress is lightweight and rugged with three photodiode arrays and no moving optical parts. Using three libraries, the USGS mineral spectral library and the optional SPECMin and GeoSPEC libraries, EZ-ID allows a geologist to match an unknown sample against a known library sample for fast identification. In addition, by selecting match regions, the geologist can ask the identification program to focus on specific prominent features.