Abstract A linear mixing model is used to model the spectral variability of an Airborne Visible / Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) scene from the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada and calibrate these radiance data to reflectance. Five spectral endmembers from the AVIRIS data, plus an ideal “shade” endmember were required to model the continuum reflectance of each pixel in the image. Three of the endmembers were interpreted to model the surface constituents green vegetation, dry grass, and illumination. These are the main transient surface constituents that are expected to change with shifts in land use or climatic influences and viewing conditions (“shade” only). The spectral distinction between the other three endmembers is very small, yet the spatial distributions are coherent and interpretable. These distributions cross anthropogenic and vegetation boundaries and are best interpreted as different soil types. Comparison of the fraction images to the bedrock geology maps indicates that substrate composition must be a factor contributing to the spectral properties of these endmembers. Detailed examination of the reflectance spectra of the three soil endmembers reveals that differences in the amount of ferric and ferrous iron and/or organic constituents in the soils is largely responsible for the differences in spectral properties of these endmembers.