Photogeologic and thermal infrared reconnaissance surveys of the Los Negritos-Ixtlan de los Hervores geothermal area, Michoacan, Mexico


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New techniques, involving interpretation of panchromatic, ektachrome and ektachrome infrared aerographic photogaphs and thermographic infrared imagery recording emission from the earth's surface in middle and far infrared wavelengths (3-5??m and 8-14??m), are being introduced in geothermal investigations in Mexico to identify outstanding structural and geologic features in a rapid and economical manner. The object of this work is to evaluate the new airborne infrared techniques and equipment as a complement to the data obtained from panchromatic aerial photography. This project is part of the Mexican remote sensing program of natural resources carried out under the auspices of the Comision Nacional del Espacio Exterior and in which the Research Institute (Instituto de Investigaciones de la Industria Electrica) is actively participating. The present study was made cooperatively with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey. The Los Negritos-Ixtlan de los Hervores geothermal fields are located east of Lake Chapala at the intersection of the Sierra Madre occidental and the west-central segment of the neovolcanic axis of Mexico. The two principal zones of hydrothermal activity occur in a tectonic trench filled with lake sediments of the Quaternary intercalated with Quaternary and Holocene volcanic rocks and characterized by an intricate system of block-fault tectonics, part of the Chapala-Acambay tectonic system, along which there has been volcanic activity in modern time. Surface manifestations of geothermal activity consist of relatively high heat flow and hot springs, small geysers and small steam vents aligned along an E-W axis at Ixtlan, possibly at the intersection of major fault trends and mud volcanoes and hot pools aligned NE-SW at Los Negritos. More than 20 exit points of thermal waters are shown on infrared imagery to be aligned along an extension of the Ixtlan fault between Ixtlan and El Salitre. A narrow zone of hydrothermal alteration and deposition at the surface is identifiable on the infrared imagery of this area, closey related spatially to a resistivity low at depth. Extinct geothermal areas near El Salitre, Ixtlan, and farther west at San Gregorio are clearly delineated on both infrared images and infrared ektachrome photographs. Predawn infrared images also show high-angle fault zones suggesting the dominance of block tectonics in much of the area. Special image enhancement techniques applied to the original magnetic tape records will be required for more precise identification of warm ground zones and for a qualitative or semiquantitative estimate of ground radiance associated with anomalously high convective heat flow. ?? 1971.

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Photogeologic and thermal infrared reconnaissance surveys of the Los Negritos-Ixtlan de los Hervores geothermal area, Michoacan, Mexico
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Pages 381–388, 389–396, IN5–IN6, 397–398
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