Application of hyperspectral infrared analysis of hydrothermal alteration on Earth and Mars

Matilda Thomas*, Malcolm R. Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


An integrated analysis of both airborne and field short-wave infrared hyperspectral measurements was used in conjunction with conventional field mapping techniques to map hydrothermal alteration in the central portion of the Mount Painter Inlier in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. The airborne hyperspectral data show the spatial distribution of spectrally distinct minerals occurring as primary minerals and as weathering and alteration products. Field spectral measurements, taken with a portable infrared mineral analyzer spectrometer and supported by thin-section analyses, were used to verify the mineral maps and enhance the level of information obtainable from the airborne data. Hydrothermal alteration zones were identified and mapped separately from the background weathering signals. A main zone of alteration, coinciding with the Paralana Fault zone, was recognized, and found to contain kaolinite, muscovite, biotite, and K-feldspar. A small spectral variation associated with a ring-like feature around Mount Painter was tentatively determined to be halloysite and interpreted to represent a separate hydrothermal fluid and fluid source, and probably a separate system. The older parts of the alteration system are tentatively dated as Permo-Carboniferous. The remote sensing of alteration at Mount Painter confirms that hyperspectral imaging techniques can produce accurate mineralogical maps with significant details that can be used to identify and map hydrothermal activity. Application of hyperspectral surveys such as that conducted at Mount Painter would be likely to provide similar detail about putative hydrothermal deposits on Mars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-351
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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