Photoluminescence of calcite: development of a potentially field-deployable tool for paleothermometry

Principal investigator:

Asst. Prof. Dr. Matija Perne


January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2024


ARRS - Slovenian Research Agency, International cooperation between the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Austria BI-AT/23-24-030


Calcite is known to luminesce after being excited with a powerful short pulse of light (e.g. photographic flash), a phenomenon known as photoluminescence (PL). Although the colour, the intensity and the duration of calcite PL are known to be related to the temperature at which the calcite was formed, the nature of the relationships between PL and formation temperature is poorly understood due to the lack of systematic studies.

This project aims at improving this situation by: (i) performing a systematic study of PL on samples of natural calcite that precipitated in the temperature range of 0°C to >100°C, and (ii) developing a rigorous, user-friendly automated PL data acquisition and processing method. We will use a set of well-characterized samples, for which the formation temperatures have been determined by various analytical methods (i.e. fluid inclusion microthermometry and clumped isotope thermometry). Calcite crystals will be excited by a photographic flash and PL will be recorded by means of a digital camera. We will develop an automated method for data processing using mathematical optimization algorithms to obtain the colour, intensity and length of different types of luminescence from the digital video records. This project will have important implications for the interpretation of PL signal as a proxy for formation temperature, and for the development of PL analysis into an easy-to use, low-cost, non-destructive field method of paleothermometry that requires no mineral collection.

Project partners: