Developing GNS's capability in multispectral satellite imagery as a tool for geothermal and mineral exploration

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Durance, P.M.J.; Ashraf, S.; Rae, A.J.; Kereszturi, G. 2017 Developing GNS's capability in multispectral satellite imagery as a tool for geothermal and mineral exploration. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2017/26. 26 p.; doi: 10.21420/G2Z316

Abstract: Multispectral satellite data and their interpretation have potential to provide an efficient, environmentally friendly, socially acceptable and inexpensive method to map, study, and explore New Zealand’s mineral and geothermal resources at a reconnaissance scale. In particular, the method can potentially help reduce the area of interest for follow-up exploration by ground-based methods. Recent technological advances, namely the launch of the WorldView3 (WV-3) satellite, have made it possible to make a serious attempt at applying remote sensing for mineral mapping to a New Zealand context. We conducted a pilot study at locations of known orogenic gold mineralisation and geothermal activity using WV-3 (Visible, NIR and SWIR) imagery over 100 km2 for two sites: Macraes Flat and Rotorua-Tikitere. Significantly, at the Macraes Flat study area, the WV-3 satellite data are of sufficiently high spatial resolution to produce mineral maps using the CSIRO ASTER Geoscience map band ratios at both a regional and deposit scale. This is shown to be the case in a New Zealand context where vegetation cover was a significant impediment to predecessor satellite detectors. In areas of geothermal activity, the WV-3 SWIR satellite imagery can be used to identify kaolinite and silica sinter in areas of surface alteration. This highlights the potential of this technique to produce mineral maps of significant surface features at New Zealand’s geothermal areas, but also internationally as a regional geothermal exploration tool, particularly for large features (>5 m across) in dense vegetation. (auth)