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Geotimes
 Published by the American Geological Institute
November 2000
Newsmagazine of the Earth Sciences

 Feature

REMOTE SENSING FOR ACID MINE SITES
 
 


What: Vegetation classification image derived from Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager (CASI) airborne sensor data

Where: Tintic mining district

Resolution: 4 meters Ground Resolved Distance (GSD)

From: G. A. Borstad & Associates for the NASA Earth Observations Commercial Applications Program


Vegetation can mask the distribution of mineralogical anomalies. Combining vegetation classification with geologic information can produce a powerful tool for seeing mineralogical distributions around mine sites. Hyperspectral data can help classify vegetation.
 
Deciduous vegetation is shown in colors extending from red to golden yellow, with evergreens shown in medium to dark green. Bare ground, shown in pale yellow, often matches with mines and mine wastes.
 
Purple areas are those affected by a July 1999 brushfire. Some mine sites were better exposed after the fire, but the ash and soot were so uniform and thick that the fire left few new rock outcrops exposed.
 
To evaluate how effective hyperspectral data are for measuring, mapping and monitoring abandoned mine wastes and their effects, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8 teamed up with other federal and state agencies and with industry to study hyperspectral data for five mine sites in Utah. Called the 1998-2000 EPA-Interagency-Industry Abandoned Mine Lands Watershed Hyperspectral Analysis Project, the partnership generated hyperspectral maps for 1.5 million acres and 27 watersheds in the Leeds, Silver Reef, Marysvale, Tushar Mountains, Oquirrh Mountains, Park City and Tintic mining districts in Utah. The EPA Region 8 contracted with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to gather data from AVIRIS. The USGS SpecLab in Denver processed the AVIRIS data, conducted field calibration studies and provided a final evaluation to the EPA.
 
The EPA Region 8 also challenged the remote sensing industry to demonstrate its commercial capabilities pro bono. Two commercial airborne hyperspectral vendors joined the study: Earth Search Science Inc., with its Probe I hyperspectral system; and a team lead by Borstad & Associates, Spectral International and Peters Geosciences utilizing the CASI /SFSI (Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager/Short Wave Infrared Full Spectrum Imager) hyperspectral systems, in part under a grant from NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center. Other study participants included Asarco Inc., Autometrics Inc., the Colorado School of Mines, Kennecott Exploration Co., Newmont Mining Corp. and Tintic Utah Metals.
 
For more about the study results and imagery, visit www.denver.issiinc.com/imspec.

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