The use of hyperspectral remote sensing for mineral exploration: a review

Enton Bedini


The hyperspectral remote sensing technology has been available to the research community for more than three decades. Since in its first steps the hyperspectral technology was also promoted as a tool for mineral exploration. Numerous mineral exploration applications of hyperspectral remote sensing have been reported. This paper provides an up-to-date and focused review of the applications of the hyperspectral remote sensing to mineral exploration. The ore deposits are grouped based on major processes of formation (magmatic, hydrothermal, sedimentary, supergene). The review shows that the hyperspectral remote sensing technology has found application to the study and exploration of a number of ore deposits including kimberlites (host-rocks of diamonds), carbonatites (host-rock of rare earth elements deposits), porphyry deposits, epithermal gold and silver deposits, skarn deposits, volcanic-hosted massive sulfide (VHMS) deposits, orogenic gold deposits, Carlin-type gold deposits, SEDEX Pb-Zn-Ag deposits. On the other hand, the possibilities of the hyperspectral technology remain still underexplored for the study and exploration of chromite deposits, Ni-sulfide deposits in mafic and ultramafic rocks, rare-metal pegmatites, greisen and related deposits, Mississippi Valley-type (MVT) Pb-Zn deposits, Kupferschiefer deposits and uranium deposits in sedimentary basins, iron ores in banded-iron formations, laterites and bauxites. A special attention has been paid in this review to the applications in mineral exploration of the emerging airborne hyperspectral thermal infrared technology. In addition, the possibilities and limitations of spaceborne hyperspectral imagery of moderate spatial resolution for detailed characterization and detection of mineralized systems are discussed for each major deposit type. The spatial resolution of the hyperspectral data is noted to be a key factor on the success of a hyperspectral exploration project. By providing a full up-to-date picture of the applications and contribution of the hyperspectral imagery to the exploration and characterization of ore deposits this review paper should be useful to the interested geological remote sensing researcher and practitioner, and to the mineral exploration manager as well.


hyperspectral remote sensing; airborne imagery; spaceborne imagery; mineral exploration; ore deposits

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