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This paper presents an application of the recent advances in the field of spherically invariant random vector (SIRV) modeling for coherency matrix estimation in heterogeneous clutter. The complete description of the polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (POLSAR) data set is achieved by estimating the span and the normalized coherency independently. The normalized coherency describes the polarimetric diversity, while the span indicates the total received power. The main advantages of the proposed fixed-point (FP) estimator are that it does not require any a priori information about the probability density function of the texture (or span) and that it can directly be applied on adaptive neighborhoods. Interesting results are obtained when coupling this FP estimator with an adaptive spatial support based on the scalar span information. Based on the SIRV model, a new maximum-likelihood distance measure is introduced for unsupervised POLSAR classification. The proposed method is tested with both simulated POLSAR data and airborne POLSAR images provided by the Radar Ae??roporte?? Multi-Spectral d'Etude des Signatures system. Results of entropy/alpha/anisotropy decomposition, followed by unsupervised classification, allow discussing the use of the normalized coherency and the span as two separate descriptors of POLSAR data sets.