Abstract:Thermal- infrared spectroscopy (6~4 μm) is a new environmental- friendly technology for ore exploration. It aids mineral mapping and ore exploration through the analysis of spectral characteristics of minerals. Compared with the short- wave infrared (SWIR) technology at wavelength of 11~25 μm, it was more sensitive for minerals such as quartz, feldspar, garnet, olivine, pyroxene, carbonate minerals, biotite, amphibole, apatite etc. However, little research on the thermal- infrared spectroscopy of minerals and its application in ore exploration has been conducted. Components of minerals was the main factor for spectral variation, which was the foundation for mineral identification and mapping. In this paper, spectra of typical minerals at thermal- infrared wavelength were obtained from different spectral libraries and literature, and the diagnostic and identifiable characteristics of these minerals were summarized. Then thermal- infrared technology were divided into two categories (field thermal- infrared spectroscopy and air- borne thermal- infrared image), and recent developments in their application in geological ore exploration were analyzed. Field thermal- infrared spectroscopy was based on spectra analysis of huge field outcrop samples or drill hole samples, which guided mineral mapping and ore exploration. Air- borne thermal- infrared technology was mainly based on the processing of thermal- infrared images, which generated the mineral mapping results. Finally, the challenges and exciting areas in the development of thermal- infrared technology were predicted, which include development of thermal- infrared instruments with higher precision, identification technology ofminerals from thermal- infrared spectra, optimization of mineral information extraction algorithms based on thermal- infrared images.