Regolith-hosted rare earth element (REE) deposits predominate global resources of heavy REEs. Regoliths are underlain by various types of igneous rocks and do not always host economically valuable deposits. Thus a feasible and convenient method is desired to identify REE mineralization in a particular regolith. This study presents a detailed visible short-wave infrared reflectance (VSWIR) spectroscopic study of the Renju regolith-hosted REE deposit, South China, to provide diagnostic parameters for targeting REE orebodies in regoliths. The results show that the spectral parameters, M794_2nd and M800_2nd, derived from the VSWIR absorption of Nd3+ at approximately 800 nm, can be effectively used to estimate the total REE concentrations in regolith profiles. M1396_2nd/M1910_2nd ratios can serve as proxies to evaluate weathering intensities in a regolith. Abrupt changes of specific spectral features related to mineral abundances, chemical compositions, and weathering intensities can be correlated with variations of protolith that formed a regolith. These VSWIR proxies are robust and can be used for exploration of regolith-hosted REE deposits.

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