Landsat multispectral scanner (MSS) band and band-ratio databases of two scenes covering the Midyan region of northwestern Saudi Arabia were examined quantitatively and qualitatively to determine which databases best discriminate the geologic units of this semi-arid and arid region. Unsupervised, linear-discriminant cluster-analysis was performed on these two band-ratio combinations and on the MSS bands for both scenes. The results for granitoid-rock discrimination indicated that the classification images using the MSS bands are superior to the band-ratio classification images for two reasons, discussed in the paper. Yet, the effects of topography and material type (including desert varnish) on the MSS-band data produced ambiguities in the MSS-band classification results. However, these ambiguities were clarified by using a simulated natural-color image in conjunction with the MSS-band classification image.