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map of hydrothermally altered rocks, Basin and Range, USA
Alteration minerals map of the Infiernillo copper porphyry deposit in Argentina. Result of mapping methods using ASTER VNIRSWIR data and Spectral Angle Mapper classification, overlain on ASTER band 2. From John and others, 2010. Map modified from Tommaso and Rubinstein, 2007. View full size image.

Why is USGS doing this research?

Visible Near Infrared (VNIR), Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) and Thermal infrared (TIR) data have proved useful in mapping minerals associated with potential mineral resources such as porphyry copper and rare earth element (REE) deposits (Mars and Rowan, 2011; John and others; 2010). We have successfully used moderate spatial resolution (15-30-90 m) ASTER VNIR, SWIR and TIR data in past projects to regionally map hydrothermally-altered rocks for mineral assessments (Berger and others, 2014; Mars, 2014; Mars, 2013).

Two new remote sensing systems, 1) the satellite-based, high spatial resolution (3-7 m) WorldView 3 multispectral VNIR-SWIR detector, and 2) the Hyperspectral Thermal Emission Spectrometer (HyTES), a TIR airborne hyperspectral detector, offer higher spatial and spectral resolution and enhanced mineral mapping capability.

What are USGS research objectives?

We plan to calibrate and validate WorldView 3 and HyTES data using existing mineral maps and hyperspectral data from previous remote sensing (VNIR-SWIR-TIR) studies. Existing data will be supplemented with spectral data collected from field samples for comparison to spectral data from WorldView 3 and HyTES. We plan to use the calibrated datasets to compile a series of mineral maps of three calibration-validation sites: Cuprite and Yerrington, NV, and Mountain Pass, CA. The outcomes of our research will determine if these new sensors can be used to map mineral resources.



USGS Products From Previous Projects

Berger, V.I., Mosier, D.L., Bliss, J.D., and Moring, B.C., 2014, Sediment-hosted gold deposits of the world—Database and grade and tonnage models (ver. 1.1, June 2014): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1074, 46 p.,

John, D.A., Ayuso, R.A., Barton, M.D., Blakely, R.J., Bodnar, R.J., Dilles, J.H., Gray, Floyd, Graybeal, F.T., Mars, J.C., McPhee, D.K., Seal, R.R., Taylor, R.D., and Vikre, P.G., 2010, Porphyry copper deposit model, chap. B of Mineral deposit models for resource assessment: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5070–B, 169 p.,

Mars, J.C., 2013, Hydrothermal alteration maps of the central and southern Basin and Range province of the United States compiled from Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data (ver. 1.1, April 8, 2014): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1139, 5 p., 13 plates, scale 1:1,300,000,

Mars, J.C., 2014, Regional mapping of hydrothermally altered igneous rocks along the Urumieh-Dokhtar, Chagai, and Alborz Belts of western Asia using Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data and Interactive Data Language (IDL) logical operators—A tool for porphyry copper exploration and assessment: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–O, 36 p., 10 plates, and spatial data,

Mars, J.C., and Rowan, L.C., 2011, ASTER spectral analysis and lithologic mapping of the Khanneshin carbonatite volcano, Afghanistan: in Geosphere, 7(1), p. 276-289, doi:10.1130/GES00630.1.

Outside References

Tommaso, I.D., and Rubinstein, N., 2007, Hydrothermal alteration mapping using ASTER data in the Infiernillo porphyry deposit, Argentina: Ore Geology Reviews, v. 32, p. 275–290, doi:10.1016/j.oregeorev.2006.05.004.


Project Contact

John C. Mars
Phone: 703-648-6302
Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center

Mineral Resources Program Science Priority

The use of firm, trade, and brand names is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. government.

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