Application of 57Fe Mössbauer Spectroscopy to Problems in Clay Mineralogy and Soil Science: Possibilities and Limitations

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The recoil-free emission and resonant absorption of γ rays (Mössbauer spectroscopy) has, since its discovery three decades ago (Mössbauer, 1958a, 1958b), become an increasingly important technique for the study of iron-bearing minerals. The fundamental requirement for the observation of γ-ray resonance is an inhibition of recoil in both emitting and absorbing atoms, so the development of a Mössbauer spectrum requires these to be bound in solids. Because resonant interactions between γ rays and matter take place at nuclei, Mössbauer spectroscopy is sensitive to the immediate nuclear environment in the γ-ray source and absorber. This is therefore a typical short-range method, which may serve as a probe for the electric and magnetic conditions in the vicinity of nuclei.