Multiscale hyperspectral imaging of the Orange Hill Porphyry Copper Deposit, Alaska, USA, with laboratory-, field-, and aircraft-based imaging spectrometers

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Abstract

In the past decade, use of hyperspectral imaging (imaging spectroscopy) for mineral exploration and mining operations has been increasing at different spatial scales. In this paper, we focus on recent trends in applying imaging spectrometer data to: 1) airborne imaging of high latitude deposits, 2) field-based imaging of outcrops, and 3) laboratory-level imaging of geologic samples. Comparing mineral information derived from imaging spectrometer data acquired at these three scales in Alaska in areas of exposed porphyry Cu-Au-Mo deposits, Orange Hill and Bond Creek, we find notable consistency in identifications of spectrally predominant minerals, including white mica, chlorite, clays, and gypsum. Variations in the wavelength position of white mica 2200 nm Al-OH absorption seen at the airborne level are echoed by finerscale field and laboratory imaging, with wavelength positions spanning the 2199 to 2207 nm range. The longerwavelength micas associated with porphyry formation are more phengitic in composition, and thus distinct from mica in plutonic and volcanic arc rocks not affected by magmatic-hydrothermal fluids. The hillside imagery, collected on a cloudy day that would have precluded aircraft survey, gave comparable result to airborne and laboratory data, indicating field-based imaging spectroscopy can be a feasible alternative to airborne survey for accessible targets. Direct spectral observation of molybdenite in rocks collected from the Orange Hill deposit demonstratesthat additional important mineral information can be revealed with laboratory level imaging spectroscopy that is difficult to obtain in coarser scale data, commonly due to low areal extent of target minerals. The spatial association of the clinochlore + white mica and long wavelength white mica spectral classes to multi-element Cu-Mo-Au anomalies from geochemical analyses of rocks and sediments support a causative relationship with magmatic-hydrothermal alteration. Mineral maps from the airborne data were used to guide field sampling that found additional CuMo-Au mineralized areas, which were previously unknown or unreported. The results from this study provide support for utilization of imaging spectroscopy for assisting mineral exploration in other portions of the state of Alaska as well as other areas at high latitudes. Imaging spectroscopy has the potential to provide targeting information for follow-up sampling and investigations, potentially reducing subsequent exploration costs.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Multiscale hyperspectral imaging of the Orange Hill Porphyry Copper Deposit, Alaska, USA, with laboratory-, field-, and aircraft-based imaging spectrometers
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Decennial Mineral Exploration Conferences
Contributing office(s) Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center
Description 21 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Proceedings of Exploration 17: Sixth Decennial International Conference on Mineral Exploration
First page 923
Last page 943
Country United States
State Alaska