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A new method for dating the surface exposure age of granite rock walls in the Mont Blanc massif by reflectance spectroscopy

  • Gallach, Xavi
  • Perrette, Yves
  • Lafon, Dominique
  • Chalmin, Emilie
  • Deline, Philip
  • Ravanel, Ludovic
  • Carcaillet, Julien
  • Wallet, Tanguy
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1016/j.quageo.2021.101156
OAI: oai:HAL:hal-03164883v1
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In the high mountain rock walls of the Mont Blanc massif, changes in the granite surface colour are related to its exposure age. The light grey colour of fresh rock surfaces turns orange when is long exposed to weathering. In order to study this colour/age relationship, reflectance spectroscopy was performed on 73 samples, and Terrestrial Cosmogenic Nuclide (TCN) dating was used to obtain their surface exposure age. The standard deviation of the reflectance values was calculated for each wavelength of the visible spectrum to study the behaviour of each spectral region. The aim was to find two colour regions that showed opposite behaviour, and once they are combined, they could provide a representative index of the rock colour changes that are linked to the degree of weathering.As an adaptation of the Green Red Vegetation Index used to measure colour changes in vegetation, the GReen-Infrared GRanite Index (GRIGRI), a normalized difference between the granite 770 nm and 530 nm reflectance values, was developed. The GRIGRI value of a weathered granite surface has a close relationship with its exposure age (R2 = 0.85). The reflectance spectra of seven samples for which TCN dating failed and two samples for which the TCN age was considered to be an outlier were used to calculate their GRIGRI value to assess the colour-based ages, that were plausible according to rock wall morphology and the TCN exposure ages of the surrounding surfaces. We propose a new method of surface dating for the rock walls of the Mont Blanc massif using reflectance spectroscopy.

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